EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

April 24, 2013

Letter: Ayotte was right on background check vote

(Continued)

Additionally, Sen. Ayotte worked with members on both sides of the aisle to help introduce separate legislation that sought to improve the nation’s mental health system. From her time as a prosecutor and as New Hampshire’s attorney general, she knows that many on the front lines of interfacing with the public need specialized training when it comes to understanding the warning signs of mental illness and helping those in crisis get the assistance they need. With that in mind, she worked with Democratic senators Mark Begich of Alaska and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut to introduce the Mental Health First Aid Act. This bill is intended to improve mental health training for educators, law enforcement, and others who work in our communities. While many in the media were focused on the proposals that failed, portions of the bill Ayotte worked to introduce were included in a larger mental health improvement bill that overwhelmingly passed the Senate by a vote of 95 to 2.

Efforts to prevent violence have brought forth passionate views. While this has frequently been an emotional debate, at the end of the day it’s important for common sense to prevail. Proposals that restrict the constitutional rights of responsible gun owners don’t address the real problem, which is keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and those who are mentally ill.

Sen. Ayotte understands that. As legislative proposals were drafted and considered, she brought her extensive background in the criminal justice system to this issue, and remained focused on practical solutions, not political quick-fixes that mask underlying problems with our existing background check system.

Bob Letourneau

Derry

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