South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham called for improvements in the mental-health system as key to preventing “nontraditional criminals” from committing acts of mass murder.
During an appearance Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Graham said Columbine High School had an armed guard on campus when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 15 and injured 23. The massacre also occurred despite a five-year-old assault-weapons ban in the U.S. at the time, and “neither one of them worked,” according to the Republican.
On Dec. 14, Adam Lanza stormed Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and fatally gunned down 20 students and six faculty members.
“We’re talking about preventing mass murder by nontraditional criminals, people who are not traditionally criminals, who are not wired right for some reason,” Graham said. “I don’t know if there’s anything Lindsey Graham can do in the Senate to stop mass murder from somebody this hell-bent on doing crazy things.”
He told host David Gregory he owns an AR-15 and keeps it at his house.
“The question is, if you deny me the right to buy another one, have you made America safer?” Graham asked.
In an earlier appearance on “Meet the Press,” NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre defended the Second Amendment and ruled out any compromise on gun control.
“I don’t suggest we ban every movie with a gun in it and every video that’s violent, and I don’t suggest you take my right to buy an AR-15 away from me because I don’t think it will work,” Graham said. “I don’t want to sit here and tell you that we’re one law away from solving this problem. We’re not one law away from solving this problem. This problem runs deep, and it runs wide.”
On the issue of the stalled fiscal-cliff talks, Graham said he opposes tax cuts for lower-income earners, extended unemployment insurance, and a delay in some of the automatically imposed spending cuts.
“The president’s been a pathetic fiscal leader,” he said. “[Speaker of the House John] Boehner will be Tip O’Neill, and [President Barack] Obama needs to be Ronald Reagan. To my Republican colleagues: If we can protect 99 percent of the American public from a tax hike, that is not a tax increase in my book.”
Finally, in response to Obama’s potential nomination of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, Graham said the former Nebraska senator’s positions “are out of the mainstream and well to the left of the president.”
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