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Tuberville calls Nashville shooting a ‘hate crime,’ calls for increased mental health resources

U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville on Wednesday called the deadly school shooting at a Nashville Christian school a “hate crime” and called for Congress to enact legislation expanding mental health resources for Americans.

The Covenant School in Nashville shooting

The shooting was carried out by a former student of the Christian elementary school known as the Covenant School. Victims of the shooting include three children and three staff members. Police arrived at the scene and killed the shooter 14 minutes following the initial 911 call.

While Metro Nashville Police, in conjunction with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation are continuing to investigate the incident, the shooting has spurred a renewed discussion on gun safety laws across the country. President Joe Biden called on Congress to reinstate a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, though a number of Republicans – who control the U.S. House of representatives – have voiced opposition to enacting new gun safety laws.

‘We do not have an answer for it’

During a press call on Wednesday, Tuberville was asked if he planned on joining Republicans such as U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley in investigating the shooting as a hate crime, given that the attack was at a Christian school.

Unequivocally, Tuberville said he would join those efforts, saying that the attack was “definitely a hate crime, there’s no doubt about that.”

“I’ve answered many questions here today walking up the halls with media, (and) everybody talks about guns; it’s not a gun problem – the Second Amendment is not the problem – it is a mental health problem in this country, and we do not have an answer for it,” Tuberville said.

“Unfortunately, we spend money on everything but mental health. Everybody says we’re working on mental health; we’re not working on mental health, we should make it one of our number one topics, we should be on the floor talking about this.”

Others, like a majority of Democratic lawmakers, have largely advocated for gun safety laws in addition to expanded mental health resources. On Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers reintroduced the Gun Violence Prevention Research Act, which would allocate $250 million over five years for gun violence prevention research.

Wednesday morning also saw House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries speak on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, calling on his Republican House colleagues to take legislative action to curb gun violence, according to media reports.

“We gather here today not simply as elected officials, but more importantly as moms, as parents, as Americans, demanding that House Republicans put people over politics and put kids over guns,” Jeffries said. “Here in America, there is no excuse to allow our streets to be flooded with weapons of war.”

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that more than one in five Americans – roughly 57.8 million in 2021 – live with some form of mental illness. Yet despite the increase in mental illness in the United States, the number of Americans receiving treatment at state psychiatric hospitals has decreased by more than 500,000 since the 1950s.

Tuberville did not advocate for any specific mental health legislation, but did call on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Congress, and the Biden administration to “do something about mental health,” and suggested he would support such efforts.

“Schumer, the White House, everybody that’s in charge should get on top of this and let’s do something about mental health,” Tuberville said. “Find an answer, get people help, and have the opportunity to stop these shootings all over the country, and really all over the world because most of it is caused by mental health.”

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