The national mental health crisis is the real factor behind the mass shootings taking place in the United States, not necessarily the nation's gun laws, Rep. Claudia Tenney said in a Newsmax interview on Wednesday, while discussing the Texas school rampage that left at least 19 elementary school children and two adults dead on Tuesday.
"We have a huge mental health crisis in our communities," the New York Republican told Newsmax's "Wake Up America." "We used to have centers where people could go. There are people in our societies and our communities who are dangerous to themselves and others and cannot live safely in an unrestricted or less restricted environment."
Tuesday's shootings at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, come just 10 days after a gunman opened fire in a racist attack in Buffalo, New York, killing shoppers and others at a supermarket.
Details are still coming about the Texas shooter, Salvador Ramos, but in the case in Buffalo, the gunman, Payton Gendron, had been treated only briefly for a mental health condition before graduating from high school.
The national mental health crisis, Tenney said, is leaving people with issues without the supervision they need, but "we're just assuming, almost arrogantly so, that all these people can be out on the street, and they're going to somehow survive."
There were warning signs from both Gendron and Ramos, Tenney pointed out. Ramos had reportedly posted photos online of the two long guns he bought on his 18th birthday and made threats.
Meanwhile, Gendron's parents told police that he had decapitated and killed a cat in their garage and posted the details online not long before the shooting, according to The Buffalo News.
Tenney also criticized President Joe Biden for his words after the shootings. The first part of his speech was empathetic, she said but with his call to stand up against the gun lobby, Biden turned the blame on "some group" and that is "unfortunate because this is a complex issue."
She pointed out that New York's red flag laws are some of the most strict in the nation, but in the case of Gendron, he was still able to buy a gun despite going through a mental health evaluation.
"We created a bill when in my first term in Congress that would make our background check system stronger because so many of these types of mental illness incidents and so-called warning signals were not reported to the federal authorities when they do a background check on someone about to obtain a firearm," said Tenney. "That tells us the information is not getting there because they're not being reported. Why isn't it getting there? Is it because the authorities are afraid of getting sued because they're disclosing something about someone?"
She also insisted that it is not sufficient to attack the nation's gun laws or lobbyists, as there are more shootings now under restrictive gun laws than there were in the past.
"They're attacking the gun lobby because that's the easy place," Tenney said. "Those are the people to attack. We have Second Amendment rights as American citizens, and so they're trying to erode our rights. This is the authoritarianism of Joe Biden and others trying to find an easy fix."
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