July 28, 2014

Walker puts focus on mental health in gun debate

President Obama is calling for a wide range of reforms in US gun laws, including a ban on assault weapons and background checks for all gun purchases. Governor Scott Walker says lawmakers should avoid pursuing extreme actions, and instead focus on trying to get at the heart of what causes these tragedies in the first place.

The governor says a common denominator in many mass shootings has been mental illness, and he believes that the focus should be on making sure people do not “fall through the cracks” of the health care system. Walker says he plans to meet with a panel of mental health experts and law enforcement officials to see what the state can do to address the issue.

Walker says the full impact of the executive orders outlined by the president this week remains unclear. He says they were “kind of dropped on all of us across the country” and governors are still trying to assess what they will mean on a state by state basis.

While the president is making a push in Congress for change, several groups have called for putting armed officers in schools to help prevent tragedies such as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which killed 20 children and six adults. Walker says that’s a decision that should be made at the school level, not by the state, with input from parents, teachers, administrators and students.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:02)

WSAU’s Larry Lee contributed to this report.