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15 Feb, 2018 17:56

People with mental illness should not touch a gun – Florida governor

People with mental illness should not touch a gun – Florida governor

Florida Governor Rick Scott says he wants to make sure people with mental issues “do not touch a gun” in the wake of Wednesday's deadly school shooting in Florida. The suspect was able to purchase his weapon legally.

The 19-year-old suspected shooter in the attack, Nikolas Cruz, had been dealing with mental health issues for some time, according to a statement from officials. A family lawyer said Cruz was depressed. Yet the teen was able to purchase a gun legally in Florida.

"The violence has to stop. We cannot lose another child in this country to violence in a school," Scott said ."If someone is mentally ill, they should not have access to a gun … None of us want anything like this to happen again."

The governor made the comments at a press briefing following Wednesday’s shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in south Florida. Seventeen people were killed and many others injured in the shooting. The attack took place shortly before the end of the school day in Parkland, a town about 45 miles north of Miami.

Scott  said he is planning to to address lawmakers in Tallahassee to discuss potential legislation on the issue of mental health and guns.

Broward County Mayor Beam Furr revealed in an interview with CNN that Cruz was struggling with mental health issues and received treatment in a mental health hospital.  “He had not been back to the clinic for over a year. There’s been a time where he was receiving treatment and then stopped,” Furr said.

Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie meanwhile said that there needed to be more mental health provision for young people in Florida. “We cannot have disconnected youth wandering around our communities,” Runcie told reporters.

On Twitter, President Donald Trump wrote, “So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem.”

The question of mental illness was raised last year following the massacre in Las Vegas which left 59 dead and more than 500 injured.  Trump described gunman Stephen Paddock as "a sick man, a demented man, lot of problems, I guess. We’re looking into him very, very seriously."

Also in 2017, mental ill-health emerged as a key factor when Devin Patrick Kelley killed 26 people in a mass shooting in a Texas church. "He was very sick in the head," Katy Landry, a former girlfriend of Kelley, told NBC News. Kelley had been previously convicted of domestic violence and animal cruelty. Trump said the church shooting wasn’t “a gun situation” but rather a “mental health problem.

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