Reed talks gun control, mental health reform

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, said he is open to conversations on improving background checks, mental health care reform and gun control measures.

When asked about arming teachers, Reed said he supports the Second Amendment rights of individuals, including teachers, but said he supports school resource officer programs. He said it is important for communities to “put pressure” on school districts to prioritize dollars for SRO programs. Previously, SRO positions had been funded by federal funds.

The New York State Sheriffs’ Association last week called on the state government to fund at least one SRO in every school. According to the Sheriff’s Association, there are about 4,750 public schools and nearly 2,000 private schools in New York. The estimated cost of the proposal would be equivalent to adding one teacher to each school.

The number of SROs have reportedly dropped over the past few years due to a lack of local funding.”

Reed said there are talks going on in the Problem Solvers Caucus for a proposal on background checks improvement, addressing mental health and other issues. He said a lead group will be formed to form a proposal that could come to fruition as early as next week.

When asked about switching the age of legal purchase of a firearm from 18 to 21 years old, Reed said it may be necessary to talk about changing the standard age to 21 for everything, including being drafted for military services. He said that is a “larger conversation” that may need to occur.

“Maybe the age of majority should be discussed and moved to 21,” Reed said.

Reed turned the conversation back to the Parkland, Fla. shooter, Nicholas Cruz. He said the question is: “What can we learn from Nicholas Cruz?”

“Where can we look at his life and where he may have slipped through the cracks,” Reed said. “How did this individual walk amongst us freely and socially without any type of system recognizing what kind of a threat he was?”

Reed said banning the AR-15 rifle would not have stopped Cruz from causing harm to others. He said Cruz had markers that were present over the course of his life to cause alarm.

“You see the markers, you see the indications, you see the red flags of where the system needs to be improved, clearly, to address a mentally deranged individual who has violent propensity,” Reed said. “There are many things we can do on the front of mental health as well as our background check and gun policy that maybe could be strengthened from learning from what was clearly a failure of our system to keep us safe.”