Prominent Kan. officials respond to Conn. shooting

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 23, 2012 at 11:47 am •  Published: December 23, 2012
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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Comments from prominent Kansas officials and members of the state's congressional delegation about possible responses to the mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn., earlier this month.

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"As a society, we must be willing to look beyond the obvious question to really take a hard look at why these senseless acts of violence continue to play out in towns across America. It's time to have an honest discussion about the culture of violence in America and more specifically, the root cause of this and other types of violence: mental illness. We will have a debate on gun control, but I think and many Kansans agree that to ignore a comprehensive examination of mental health policies in America is doing the victims of these mass murders, and the rest of the nation, a disservice," U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, a Republican, said in an emailed statement.

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"In the wake of such an unspeakable tragedy, it is natural to raise questions about how and why this happened and what should be done - but it is clear the underlying issues behind this senseless act of violence involve more than gun control laws. As we look for answers, I join the entire nation in mourning with the community of Newtown and praying for the victims and their families," U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican, said in an emailed statement.

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"One of the things I want to look at is whether or not we're providing sufficient mental health services in the state of Kansas. ... One thing that may be different after Connecticut — there may be, hopefully, a serious national discussion about these things. ... If you immediately go to the heat-seeking issue, you're not even going to start the discussion. It's just going to go to the polarized points immediately," Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, said during an interview.

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"In the days ahead, it is my hope we can have an honest discussion about what causes these types of tragedies and how we can prevent them. One of those discussions needs to focus on how we approach mental health in this country. We need to ensure all families have access to resources to help prevent mentally unstable individuals from harming themselves or others. Most of all, we need to remove the stigma of mental health treatment, so that those affected will get the help they need. ... Prevention starts with getting folks the care they need, and that means improving accessibility and affordability," said U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, a Republican who represents the 2nd Congressional District of eastern Kansas, in a statement. Having served two terms, she is the state's senior U.S. House member.

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"These mass acts of violence demonstrate a coarsening of society that devalues life at all stages. Fundamentally, the problem here is not guns, it's people. And, the answer is not more state or federal legislation, but the answer is culture — reaffirming the role of the family, community, and the value of life as well as de-stigmatizing mental illness so that people who need help can get it," U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, a Republican who represents the 1st District of western and central Kansas, said in an emailed statement.

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