Sen Fischer: Emphasize mental health in gun violence debate

June 3, 2022, 2:57 p.m. ·

An array of firearms for sale at a Lincoln, Nebraska gun store
Firearms on display at Nebraska Gun in Lincoln. (Photo: Nebraska Public Media)

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On the day President Joe Biden said, "too many schools have become killing fields in America" during a nationally-televised address, Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer reaffirmed her stand that guns are not the root cause behind mass shootings in America.

Her comments to Nebraska Public Media News came prior to Biden calling for age limits on sales of assault weapons, changes to the system of background checks, incentives for states to pass so-called 'red-flag' laws, and upgrading school safety protocols.

Campaign event at Nebraska Cattleman's Association
Sen. Deb Fischer, second from right, attends event at Nebraska Cattlemen Association

Fischer, in her second term representing Nebraska in the U.S. Senate, said she hopes there can be a responsible debate on the issue and how those conversations influence violence in America.

"It goes back to looking at how we treat each other and do we do we have a civil society any more, where we can disagree and have a civil conversation."

"That's tough," she added.

During a news conference promoting the Nebraska Cattlemen Association endorsement of Republican candidate for governor, Jim Pillen, Fischer declined to answer a reporter's question concerning gun violence.

Approached after the event, Fischer answered questions posed by Nebraska Public Media News about possible responses to gun violence under consideration in the politically divided U.S. Senate.

Although President Biden had yet to make his remarks specifying actions, the Nebraska Senator stuck to previous statements supporting the 2ndAmendment as a "fundamental" right specified in the Constitution.

Her priorities reflected those of the Republican leaders opposing certain bans on types of weapons or restrictive licensing, noting a preference for responding with programs focusing on those with mental health issues that might result in violence.

"I believe we have a mental health crisis," she said, noting that "there are other people who get really frustrated when I say that, but you know, this is a mental health crisis."

She called for additional funding for mental health services and money to help in the "hardening" of school buildings, the phrase in vogue describing how facilities can be fortified while making them safer from armed assaults.

Fischer also reflected on the changes in America which have contributed to the post-Columbine era of mass shootings. In 2022 the Gun Violence Archive logged 232 incidents they define as mass shootings.

Sen. Deb Fischer: You have a number of people who will say that it is due to the breakup of the family of the nuclear family, you will say that it is because of bullying, the increases in bullying and really violent and vile bullying that takes place in schools.

You'll hear people say it's social media. Some of the comments that you read. Read some of my comments on my official post. Horrible things that people say because they think they're anonymous. Think how that affects our young people. And it starts much younger and younger and younger.

I think it's a combination of all of those things. You know, when my kids were in high school, they could park a pickup in the parking lot and have rifles in the back window. What's changed?

Bill Kelly, Nebraska Public Media: The kind of gun in the rear window?

Fischer: No, that hasn't changed.

Kelly: The quantity of weapons?

Fischer: Well, the quantity. See, that's over 400 million. I think that determined

Kelly: Huge increase since those days.

Fischer: And again, you can look at a variety of reasons. I've had a young mother tell me that she's going to be getting a handgun and take training because she's worried and she lives in Omaha. It's not we need to take away all these weapons because you and I both know that you're not going to get them all.