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Rep. Schweikert says lawmakers should not politicize mass shootings

U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., holds his daughter Olivia as he speaks to supporters, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, at an election night party in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — Residents across the United States woke up to news of another mass shooting on Thursday, this time after a gunman shot and killed 12 people in a southern California nightclub.

U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, who was re-elected to his Congressional District 6 seat on Tuesday, said lawmakers and public officials should, in the wake of mass shootings, discuss ways to keep the community safer but not politicize the shooting.

“How do you keep the community safe? How do you keep it safer?” Schweikert told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Thursday.

“The reality of it is, I think you have to sort of scrub some of the craziness out of all of us and say, ‘How do you approach it?’ Is it mental health? Is it law enforcement? Is it sentencing? Is it restrictions on firearms?”

Schweikert claimed that today, residents in Phoenix are “half as likely to be involved in a firearm incident than we were 25 years ago.”

“Did we spend more money on mental health? Is it community policing? Is it just demographics, we got older?” Schweikert said.

“But to understand that, I think, is to actually understand a solution instead of just trying to find a political wedge that gets you on television to get you to talk to your political base,” he added.

“That’s one of my intense frustrations about these things is that it’s often not a discussion about what makes your family and my community safer, it’s let me talk to my political [people] and try to feed them what makes them happy.”

Twelve people were killed late Wednesday during a shooting at a country dance bar in Southern California.

The dead included 11 people inside the bar and a veteran sheriff’s sergeant who was the first officer inside the door.

The suspected gunman, identified as Ian David Long, a 28-year-old veteran, opened fire at Borderline Bar and Grill as the bar was holding a weekly “college night.” He was found dead after the shooting. It was not immediately clear how he died.

Long was armed with a Glock 21, a .45-caliber pistol designed to hold 10 rounds plus one in the chamber, according to the sheriff. But it had an extended magazine — one capable of holding more ammunition — that is illegal in California, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said.

The killer also deployed a smoke device, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus and a passing highway patrolman arrived around 11:20 p.m. in response to several 911 calls, heard gunfire and went inside, the sheriff said. Helus was immediately shot, Dean said.

The highway patrolman pulled Helus out, then waited as a SWAT team and scores more officers arrived. Helus died at a hospital.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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