The state of New York already has some of the most strict gun laws in the country, but the reporting system involved in the federal statutes "is usually the problem" in cases such as the weekend's deadly mass shooting at a Buffalo grocery store on Saturday, Rep. Claudia Tenney told Newsmax on Monday.
"For a day and a half he was retained in a hospital setting to be evaluated for threats and mental health problems and then released," the New York Republican said on Newsmax's "Wake Up America" about 18-year-old Payton Gendron, who was arrested Saturday after opening fire in a grocery store located at a predominantly Black neighborhood, killing 10 people. "Why wasn't that reported?"
Gendron reportedly bought his weapon legally, but Tenney noted that under federal law, Gendron's mental health status and previous threats should have been reported.
"Why didn't they see that?" she said. "That's a law that we passed on the federal side. That's a reporting problem. That's something that wasn't done by our hospitals, our schools, and others who should have been reporting these things, and the kid should have been denied access to a gun."
Gendron was held for two days in a hospital last year and underwent psychiatric evaluations, while he was still 17 years old, after saying in a school project that the wanted to commit a murder-suicide after graduating from Susquehanna Valley High School outside Binghamton, N.Y., reports The New York Times. Two weeks after his release from the hospital, Gendron graduated and was no longer being watched by investigators.
Tenney said she can't imagine the pain and suffering of the families who lost loved ones while they were shopping at the Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo on Saturday.
"What could be more a normal activity, and to have some deranged, diabolical person show up and wipe them out for no reason other than he's now been radicalized somehow on social media," she said. "This 18-year-old kid is actually from my district, from Conklin. It's a nice little rural community near Binghamton, New York."
Tenney also said she does not understand how teens get access to hate speech and doctrines such as Gendron used in a 180-page manifesto on his actions.
"If you've read the 180-page manifesto, it's absolutely appalling and disgusting," said Tenney. "I couldn't even get through it. A lot of it is garbage and copy and pasted craziness from wherever he's getting it on the internet."
When asked if she thinks internet companies should flag documents like what the accused shooter wrote, Tenney said, "everybody should be looking for these signs, whether it's in school, friends, family."
Another part of the issue is that young people are being bombarded with too much information online, said Tenney.
"We are living in a really difficult time, I think, for young people," she said. "This is the information age. We are just bombarded every day with media from all sources, and so much of this media is not well-intentioned. It's to get clickbait or to make money off of what they're submitting to these kids."
Tenney said she doesn't want to blame the school districts or even Gendron's parents.
"We have a society that doesn't focus on self-reliance ethics and good things and good citizenship," said Tenney. "Kids are learning things in school that don't involve personal responsibility and your ability to determine where you're going to be in life and how to be a good citizen. It's all about money and clickbait and this type of thing, and I think kids are confused."
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