NORFOLK – The discussion on reducing gun violence is actually a discussion about mental health, according to U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry.
“I think what’s happening is this debate about responsible gun ownership is also moving into a larger debate about the mental health crisis in our country and the epic failure of government at all levels in the Florida situation,” Fortenberry said in an interview with News Channel Nebraska.
The Republican District One Congressman was in Norfolk Tuesday to meet with local leaders, and said that the recent student walk-outs and this past weekend’s March For Life is an opportunity to engage in an honest discussion about what needs to change.
“The young people coming forward and saying ‘We want a deeper and more important debate about what this is.’ I think can be constructive,” Fortenberry said. “But it is a response that is required not just of the federal government, but of local government and school systems. It’s a deeper issue of how we move from a culture of violence to a culture of commitment.”
Fortenberry said steps to address gun violence were taken in the recent omnibus budget bill, which he voted for.
“Part of this last budget bill was moving more money into the mental health situation,” Fortenberry said. “It also fixed a glitch in what is the gun background check system. We also plowed some money, importantly, into helping local school systems better secure themselves.”
Fortenberry pointed out that despite the recent tragedies, federal statistics show that overall the firearm crime rate has declined in the U.S. over the last 25 years.