Mental Health Forum at UVA Reignites Gun Debate - ABC 8NEWS - WRIC | Richmond, Virginia News & Weather

Mental Health Forum at UVA Reignites Gun Debate

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Debate over guns and mental health at a forum in UVA could be making its way to Richmond.

Weeks after Senator Creigh Deeds' son stabbed his father and then shot himself, mental health is back at the forefront of discussion - this time at a forum at UVA to discuss mental health and public safety, a panel of experts and lawmakers, revealing recommendations they believe could help.

"We constantly, repeatedly, say how and why does this mass tragedy happen? How and why do we have 30,000 Americans killed by guns every year?" says Lori Haas of Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. "Well, we're not answering the question."

Haas' daughter was shot in the head twice at Virginia Tech during the shooting rampage. She survived and now Haas has dedicated herself to preventing it from happening again. She plans on going back to the general assembly to try and convince lawmakers that the laws need to change...

"Sometimes, unfortunately, the General Assembly and legislators tend to be more reactionary than they are visionary and so when tragic events like this happen, it gets peoples' attention," says Sen. Ralph Northam.

The recommendations include strengthening state laws that temporarily revoke a person's rights if they're involuntarily hospitalized and improving background checks, but some think the panel is missing the point.

Phillip Van Cleave with the Virginia Citizens Defense League says the panel shouldn't focus on guns with the problems they're trying to solve.

"The recommendations were more just gun control under the guise of mental health," he says. "They're really not paying attention to the mental health issues. There's a whole lot that could be done for mental health and really it's got nothing to do with guns."

Again this likely will be an issue taken up at the next General Assembly session.

In a recent interview Senator Deeds said he owes it to his son to fix mental health services, and prevent anyone from going through what he has his family have endured.


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