Tougher gun laws no fix to shootings, Graves says

John Dupont
Congressman Garret Graves

Stiffer gun control laws would do little or nothing to curb the rash of gun violence, according to Congressman Garret Graves.  

The third-term District 6 Republican House member from Baton Rouge made his comments Monday at the weekly luncheon of the Press Club of Baton Rouge in the wake of mass shootings within 12 hours during the weekend in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. 

"If you're going to say a gun ban will prevent murders from happening, that's simply wrong," Graves said. "We have a black market on guns, and there are ways that guns will never be taken out."

President Donald Trump said Monday he would support House Resolution 8, which would allow for universal background checks. The system would help states adopt "red flag" laws to take away firearms from dangerous or mentally ill people. 

Graves doubts the bill would have much impact on a curb of the mass shootings, which qualify as those with four or more victims. 

"Even the 'conservative' Washington Post looked at every single gun bill and said the bills wouldn't have stopped shootings," he said. "I'm a father of three kids. I receive text message alerts of school lockdowns and it scares the hell out of me, but we're going to make a grave error if we pass legislation like HR8 and pat ourselves on the back about that."

A nationwide database currently in place has been a flawed system. The gunman in the Parkland High School shooting in Florida earlier this year had 26 red flags from peers and law enforcement. And the Dayton shooter also had numerous flags, Graves said.

"Every one of those gunmen had been flagged by peers or law enforcement," he said. "When you see your friends and relatives going out and posting manifestos and other clear signs something is wrong, you have to do something. This is, to a large degree, an issue about people."

The federal government has increased funding for mental health treatment in recent years, but it still takes a recognition of the behavioral traits to pinpoint those in need of help, Graves said.  

"There's nothing mentally safe about these people. We need to get those people the help they need to prevent this from happening again," he said.