Local leaders call for tougher gun laws, better mental health services in the wake of Connecticut massacre
As residents mourned the young children and adults killed in last Friday’s shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., California lawmakers began calling for both tougher gun laws, including a renewed ban on automatic weapons, and improved mental health services for people who may be on the verge of committing violent acts.
“I think [this incident] will be a tipping point for the Congress and the country, I hope, to enact some responsible gun control measures,” Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, said in an interview Sunday that appeared on MSNBC. Also on Sunday, Democratic US Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California called for enactment of an assault rifle ban similar to one she authored in 1994, which expired in 2004.
In Friday’s massacre, authorities say 20-year-old Adam Lanza first shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, to death in their home, then, armed with two handguns and a .223-calibre Bushmaster assault rifle belonging to the victim, drove to the school and killed 20 children and five other adults. Two other adults were wounded. Lanza later killed himself.
Hours after the shooting, the Pasadena Unified School District began offering crisis counseling to students affected by news of the event. The Pasadena Police Department stepped up patrols around local campuses, according to Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez.
Schiff warned against “the gun show loophole,” which allows people to purchase as many weapons as they want from unlicensed dealers at gun shows without undergoing background checks. Feinstein’s legislation carried limits on the number of rounds a weapon can hold.
“We need to get better at monitoring large purchases of ammunition,” Sanchez told the Weekly. “You could buy one box a month over six months and not raise any red flags.”
Although a motive for the shooting was not known Tuesday, former Altadena Town Councilman Steve Lamb, who himself owns a rifle and a handgun, called for improved mental health services to help prevent such occurrences.
“We’ve made it extremely difficult for people who have mental difficulties to get help,” said Lamb. “The answer is not to punish the sane people by taking their weapons away. The answer is to take care of the insane people.”