Sen. Mitt Romney calls for government action, legislation in wake of mass shootings

This story originally appeared at deseret.com. Read it in its entirety here.

Vowing to be a “constructive voice,” Sen. Mitt Romney called for government action and legislation in the wake of “senseless” mass shootings in California, Texas and Ohio in the past week.

In addition, the Utah Republican called for a greater commitment to racial equality.

Romney said many of his colleagues have various proposals that touch on different aspects of the gun debate.

“These issues involve constitutional rights and deeply held beliefs, but that is not an excuse to shy away from a serious, fact-based, and thorough national discussion which will potentially lead to remedial legislation,” he said in a statement.

“This will require courage and a willingness from all sides to find areas of consensus, instead of retreating to partisan corners,” Romney said. “I am determined to be a constructive voice in that endeavor.”

The recent tragedies demand “thoughtful, considered” action from local, state and federal leaders, as well as ordinary citizens, he said.

“Too often, once the initial headlines of a tragedy fade, the national conversation moves on without giving these issues the full attention they merit,” Romney, R-Utah, said.

After several school shootings last year, Romney said states — not the federal government — should establish gun laws and school safety measures. He said he did not support new federal gun control legislation, except banning the sale of bump stocks and an updated background check system.

Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, said he is and will remain a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. “But like all Americans, I was heartbroken and I was angry over the evil we saw displayed over the weekend,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.

Stewart said for two years he has backed legislation that would take weapons out of the hands of those who are mentally incompetent.

“It’s one of the things we actually have to focus on now,” he said.

The country, Stewart said, is too steeped in violence in movies, TV and video games, and people don’t honor the sanctity of life as they have in the past. He said it’s fair to ask whether society has surrounded itself with too much violence.

President Donald Trump tweeted Monday that “Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform.”

Speaking from the White House later Monday, the president called for reforms to mental health laws and criticized violent video games, saying he had also asked the FBI to identify resources needed to disrupt domestic terrorism.

Trump did not repeat his call for stronger background checks, as he had tweeted earlier Monday.

“Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun,” Trump said in the televised speech. “I am open and ready to listen and discuss all ideas that will actually work and make a very big difference.”

Trump later tweeted that he’s directing the Department of Justice to propose legislation “ensuring that those who commit hate crimes and mass murders face the DEATH PENALTY — and that this capital punishment be delivered quickly, decisively, and without years of needless delay.”

The House passed sweeping gun control legislation earlier this year, including expanding background checks for gun purchases and funds for gun violence research, but the Senate has yet to take it up.

The Alliance for a Better Utah and the Gun Violence Prevention Center of Utah applauded Romney’s willingness to be a constructive voice, but urged him and GOP Sen. Mike Lee to demand that the Senate vote on the House bill and other gun reform measures, including reinstating a ban on assault weapons.

“Enough is enough,” said Chase Thomas, Better Utah executive director.

This story originally appeared at deseret.com. Read it in its entirety here.

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