An Alabama congressman says his grandfather’s death at the hands of a mentally ill gunman shaped his views on the futility of stricter gun controls.
“I take every incident of gun violence seriously,” Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Ala., said Wednesday on C-SPAN. “What the president proposed yesterday will not affect this problem at all.”
“This is not an abstract issue for me,” Byrne said, adding:
My grandfather was shot and killed by a mentally ill person. And it devastated my family. It devastated my mother and grandmother and my two uncles. So when we talk about people who have been shot by mentally ill people, I understand it. I understand what it does to the victims.
Byrne’s grandfather was shot by a mentally ill man in Mobile, Ala., before the Great Depression.
“We’re not going to solve this problem if we’re not going to talk about changing the mental health policy of the United States,” Byrne, 60, told C-SPAN host John McArdle.
Washington Post reporter Amber Phillips wrote about Byrne’s personal story, noting the congressman had not talked much about this part of his family’s past “until he came to Congress and a number of shootings by mentally ill people dominated the news.”
After the murder, Byrne’s family did not turn to gun control as a solution, Phillips reported Wednesday:
Instead, Byrne said his family focused on the fact that there are people in Alabama and the United States who are mentally ill and precautions need to be taken to keep them and their families and their communities safe.
“Every one of these mass shootings that we’ve seen in the last couple of years in America, the guns were purchased legally through a gun dealer who did background checks,” Byrne said in the C-SPAN interview, adding:
At some point, you’ve got to say, ‘Now wait a minute, there’s the responsibility of the person that has the gun.’ … Don’t penalize the other 90-plus percent of people in America who buy guns legally and use them legally and don’t hurt anybody because we have a tiny percentage of people who have violated that.