House Speaker Paul Ryan Says ‘Critical Ingredient’ to Address Gun Shootings Is Mental Health Reform

Paul Ryan
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters the “critical ingredient” to addressing mass shootings was mental health reform, but he largely sidestepped questions about Democrats’ calls for laws to limit access to firearms.

At a press conference on Capitol Hill, the first since the Las Vegas shooting massacre, Ryan said “one of the things we have learned from these shootings is often underneath this is a diagnosis of mental illness.”

He cited legislation passed last year aimed at expanding access to mental health services.

“That law is now being implemented,” Ryan said. “So I think it is important that as see the dust settles, and we see what is behind some of these tragedies, that mental health reform is a critical ingredient to making sure that we can try and prevent some of these things from happening in the past.”

But Ryan did not address moves made by the GOP and President Donald Trump earlier this year that reversed an Obama administration regulation to make it more difficult for those who are on Social Security for mental illness to be able to purchase guns.

Ryan also said proposed legislation to make it easier to buy gun silencers is not scheduled for a vote this week, but he did not indicate when it would come for a floor vote.

“We cannot let the actions of a single person define us as a country,” Ryan said. “It is not who we are. Instead what truly defines us are the act of heroism we witness after the tragedy.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has called for the formation of a select committee to address gun violence.

Ryan’s remarks on mental health drew a sharp response from Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.), whose family has long been advocates for greater funding and access.