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Arizona Rep. Schweikert heads back to work to face gun-violence issue

(AP Photo)
LISTEN: David Schweikert, Arizona Congressman

PHOENIX — As Congress returns to work after a 10-day break, politicians will be facing a growing din from voters on gun violence. U.S. Rep. David Schweikert of Arizona understands that concern.

But Schweikert said legislative effectiveness was more important than political showmanship.

“… what we so often do in Washington and in politics, you do something visceral. You get applauded ‘Hey, I did something!’ (but) it had no effect. It’s theater. Policy by theater is not particularly effective,” Schweikert said Monday on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News.

The 55-year-old Republican from Fountain Hills was headed back to Capitol Hill, where his party has been fairly quiet on the gun issue.

“(At) Costco … this wonderful woman comes up and says, ‘Just do something,'” Schweikert said of his weekend in Arizona.

“It wasn’t, ‘Do something that would be effective,’ (or) do something that would make us, in society, safer. It was just that sort of visceral reaction. …

“You’ll see a number of politicians right now saying we need to reinstate the assault weapon ban of the ’90s. Except we had that for 10 years and at the end of 10 years when the analysis was done both on the right and the left, there was no statistical variance that made any difference.”

A ban on assault weapons had been in place nearly five years in 1999 when two students armed with a semi-automatic handgun and sawed-off shotguns went on a deadly rampage at Columbine High School in Colorado.

Not-for-profit Gun Violence Archive data showed 515 children had been shot — many fatally — this year — and overall 2,249 had been shot to death as of Monday.

Schweikert, who has long had the support of the National Rifle Association, said in the past his office had worked on protections for “school psychologists, teachers, professionals, who want to do a mental health referral” but there were policy barriers.

He said as the law stands now, those school figures “can be personally sued if they don’t get everything absolutely perfect” in assessing whether a student poses a threat.

Schweikert co-sponsored the Mental Health and Safe Communities Act of 2015 and voted in favor of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016.

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