Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush says the way to address mass shootings in the United States involves early intervention for people with mental health issues.
"We can lessen it," Bush told Iowa WHOTV's The Insiders in an interview that aired this weekend.
"And we need to look at: What are the common denominators of these very public mass murders where people then commit suicide? And I think the one common denominator that's pretty clear is, there's a huge mental health challenge in our country," continued Bush.
The Republican presidential candidate singled out those who live in isolation on the Internet as one area where people can get deeply disturbed.
"And people that live in isolation, they go on the internet, they live their lives there, they get deeply disturbed, and then they get worse, and they commit these atrocious acts — there should be some intervention earlier. If people have deep mental health challenges, they shouldn't have access to purchase guns," said Bush.
"I don't know the facts about the case in Oregon, how this young man got his guns, but he clearly had mental health challenges. And the capturing system for mental health in this country is not as wide as it needs to be. And so I think states ought to look at this, to determine how you can protect privacy rights for people, but make sure that we get adequate information, so that people don't fall through the cracks."
Bush noted the perpetrator of the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon had served briefly in the military before being discharged. The Wall Street Journal reported last week the shooter was discharged one month after a suicide attempt.
"Had there been intervention in this guy's case — he was in the military, he was, I think he got, he was discharged dishonorably, I believe, I don't know what the exact circumstance, but he left within months of his enlisting — there should be some way to identify these things," said Bush.
"And we're living in a world now where people can basically live their own lives, they can create their own realities through the Internet, and the despair that builds up is just tragic."
Bush said funding of mental organizations across the country would be key.
"I think there is a role. There's a clear role. And we – it's hard to diagnose; it is a challenge – when I was governor, we expanded mental health services, but it was always a challenge. And the federal government is a partner in this. Medicaid is not the place to deal with this challenge; it's the direct funding of mental health community organizations across the country."
Andrew Kaczynski is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Andrew Kaczynski at email@example.com.
Ilan Ben-Meir is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Ilan Ben-Meir at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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