Some say more emphasis needed on mental health, not gun controls

By Audrey Williams

January 16, 2013 Updated Jan 17, 2013 at 11:21 AM CDT

EAST PEORIA, Ill -- On the heels of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, President Obama is taking action.

On Wednesday, he announced sweeping legislation with an aim to reduce gun violence. The President is asking for lawmakers to implement mandatory background checks for all gun purchases, reinstate a ban on some assault-style weapons; and ban high-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

Local gun shop owner John Meek doesn't necessarily believe any of these moves will stop mass shootings.

"You push a button and you pop out a magazine you put another one in. Limiting the capacity of one individual magazine, to me, doesn't really curb anything," said Meek.

The President also signed executive actions which address policy on gun tracking, education and mental health.

Meek said, "Rather than going after the instrument used we need to go after the type of person that has been enabled to commit those crimes."

If the majority of Americans can't agree on gun laws or school safety measure, perhaps one thing they can agree on for the most part is the need for improved access to mental health care.

"Unfortunately, there has been a reduction of monies across the nation, as well as in our own state, I know in our program equivalent to about a million dollars in overall reduction," said Dr. John Gilligan, President and CEO of the Human Service Center in Peoria.

Beside the need for dollars, Dr. Gilligan says he would like to see some changes to patient privacy laws that he says currently can counter good health care.

"Sometimes the HIPPA laws don't even allow our mental health professionals to talk to physicians in the Emergency Department or the physicians in the Emergency Department to talk to the mental health professionals," he said.

The President admits he faces a tough fight on Capitol Hill, but he promises to use the weight of his office to get done what he calls the right thing.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.