New York Senator Chuck Schumer and his slightly better-known cousin Amy held a joint press conference Monday, calling for stronger background checks and better mental health funding as part of a plan to try to reduce the devastating number of mass shootings in the United States. A gunman killed two women and injured nine more people at a screening of Trainwreck on July 23. Amy refused to use the gunman’s name in her remarks today: “I don’t want to say it.”
The gunman, John Russell Houser, had no felony convictions and purchased his handgun legally at a Louisiana pawn shop in February 2014. His background check was clean, despite the fact that his wife and daughter sought orders of protection against him in 2008 and removed the guns from their home because they were afraid he would harm them. Houser, who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and whose family said he didn’t always take his medication, was detained and sent to a mental hospital for treatment, but was not involuntarily committed, which would have meant the court had to report him to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, who would then have reported him to the FBI. Houser was reportedly denied a concealed carry permit in 2006 because of a 2005 domestic violence report. He died by suicide after shooting the people in the theater.
The Schumers laid out a plan that they said could prevent people like Houser from obtaining guns. A key component would be stronger background checks for gun purchases, including rewarding states that submit all the required information to the federal government and penalizing the ones that don’t. The duo also called for better funding for the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. According to Mashable reporter Colin Daileda, they also want the Department of Justice to study state standards for involuntary mental health commitment:
Reporters at the press conference said Amy Schumer grew emotional when discussing the shooting victims:
Daileda also reports that Amy Schumer said she fully expects to receive death threats as a result of her comments on gun violence.
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A prayer service for the victims of the Trainwreck shooting, Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Lafayette, La. Image via AP.