Gun violence a "vexing problem" for some politicians

08/27/2015 09:45 PM

LOUISVILLE — An attack carried out on live television Wednesday morning in Virginia again has politicians searching for answers to senseless acts of violence in the United States.

Two journalists, Alison Parker and Adam Ward, were shot and killed by an apparently disgruntled former colleague in Roanoke, Virginia Wednesday. The killings are among a string of high-profile shootings in recent years that has gone largely unanswered by state and federal politicians.

Chris Hurst, the boyfriend of Parker, told CNN that action against gun violence needs to take place.

“There needs to be some action that is taken out of an event like this — out of an event like Sandy Hook, like Charleston, like Aurora, Colorado… where these things just don’t occur anymore,” Hurst told the news network.

Hurst’s comments mirror Parker’s father who told NBC News that gun violence “has got to stop.”

“We’ve got to find a way to keep crazy people from getting guns, mentally unstable people,” he told NBC News. “The people that do this are mentally unstable, and somehow they’re able to get guns.”

Speaking to reporters at the Kentucky State Fair on Thursday U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, searched for the words to reflect on the topic.

“These incidents are always disturbing, and trying to figure out what you can do about somebody who is crazed and intent on committing murder is a vexing problem going back to the beginning of the country,” McConnell said.

On Wednesday, President Obama said the shooting death of the journalists in Virginia “breaks my heart,” adding that more deaths in the nation are attributable to guns than terrorism.

Obama’s White House has attempted to crack down against gun violence with tougher laws proposed like: expanding background checks, bans on military-style assault weapons and magazine capacity limits. Obama’s gun agenda has been a non-starter for many members of Congress.

Speaking to reporters after a campaign event in Iowa on Wednesday, Hillary Clinton said she was “stricken” by the murders in Virginia.

“I will extend my condolences and sympathies to their families … but I will also reiterate, we have got to do something about gun violence in America. And I will take it on,” Clinton said.

Clinton said that politically the issue is a tough one to navigate adding that something has to be done about the gun violence that is “stalking our country.”

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump told media outlets that gun violence is not a gun problem, but a mental health issue.

“I guarantee you there are a couple of people that knew this man that did the killing yesterday that probably said, ‘Wow he’s really got problems I mean he really should be institutionalized,’” Trump told CNN.

For the second time since the primary election candidates in Kentucky are again facing questions about high profile murders.

Senate Judiciary Chair Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, is running for attorney general against Louisville lawyer Andy Beshear, and both candidates pointed to mental health inadequacies in Kentucky’s laws that need addressing.

Beshear told reporters the state has not addressed the mental health “crisis” in the commonwealth in a “meaningful way.”

“If you look back — especially at a couple of the last instances, and they have been instances that have really torn at the fabric of who we are, some of those if the current laws that are on the books had been put in place wouldn’t of happened,” he said.

Westerfield, who spoke to Pure Politics by phone, said Wednesday’s murders are “a tragedy everyone hates that it happened,” agrees that mental health needs to be addressed in Kentucky.

“There are enormous gaps that need to be addressed,” Westerfield said relating a story of a man who was declared incompetent to stand trial in Kentucky, but was unable to be placed elsewhere after making and placing hoax mail bombs.

Westerfield said the gaps in Kentucky’s system needs to be addressed before there is a discussion on firearms for law abiding citizens.

About Nick Storm

Nick Storm is the Anchor and Managing Editor of Pure Politics, the only nightly program dedicated to Kentucky politics. Nick covers all of the political heavyweights and his investigative work brings to light issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, like the connection between the high profile Steubenville, Ohio rape and a Kentucky hacker whose push for further investigation could put him in federal prison. Nick is also working on a feature length bio documentary Outlaw Poet: A documentary on Ron Whitehead. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickStorm_cn2. Nick can be reached at 502-792-1107 or nicholas.storm@twcnews.com.

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