CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada legislators have intensified their focus on gun violence as the subject dominates national discussion after dozens of people were killed in December at a Connecticut elementary school.
The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services heard from a panel of experts Thursday on the relationship between mental illness and gun violence. No bills or budgets were introduced; the intent was to broaden the senators' understanding of the issue, said Sen. Justin Jones, D-Las Vegas and the committee's chairman.
There is no single approach to dealing with the issue, but rather a need for policy concerning the people, the guns and culture, Administrator Richard Whitley of the Nevada State Health Division told senators.
According to Bunchie Tyler of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, however, there is one way to reduce the risks: Don't let those suffering from mental illness ever own a gun.
"It's the safest thing, because you never know," Tyler told reporters after the meeting. "You never know when one of us is going to go off with a supposedly normal brain, so imagine when you already know somebody has an illness or propensity to go off. You don't want them to have a gun ready."
Tyler said her opinion is based on living with her schizophrenic husband for more than 30 years.
"My husband's working, he's never been violent, but I don't have guns in my house," she said.
Under the current law, if someone is committed to a state hospital, they are placed on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System registry and not allowed to purchase a firearm. However, many people diagnosed with a mental illness are not barred from buying firearms, Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, said Friday.