McCrory: Mental health should be focus of shooting response

The governor-elect says North Carolina doesn't need to change its gun laws, but should work to improve mental health system and make sure schools are secure.

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Mark Binker
RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov.-elect Pat McCrory said the state should look to ensure schools are secure and improve its mental health system in response to last week's shootings in Newtown, Conn.

"I've got to get my feet grounded as governor first. But I think we do need to do a whole review of our school safety to ensure that we have to the proper programs in place, to ensure that our kids are protected," McCrory said. "The second area I'm very interested in is mental health. Right now we have broken system regarding mental health. And this type of situation could occur here because of some people with serious mental health issues. Those are two immediate areas that I can maybe have an impact on as the next governor."

Asked about potential changes to either broaden gun rights or impose more controls, McCrory said the state has enough gun laws. 

"I just want to make sure that kids are safe," McCrory said. "The long-term solution I think is not changing any current laws — we've got a lot of laws on the books — but taking care of those people who have some serious, serious problems in their minds. I think that's where a lot of the concentration needs to be. Because if you look at all these incidents throughout the nation, it's been these loners that have some serious, serious issues. I think that's the thing we've got to concentrate on."

Asked to clarify if any changes to gun control policy were needed, McCrory again said that current regulations are sufficient.

"We've got enough laws on the books right now. We've got to enforce the existing laws on the books. We've also got to deal with a serious mental health issue," McCrory said, adding that it was important not put in place solutions that aren't well thought out.

"You don't want to develop a short-term fix that causes long-term problems," McCrory said. "You've got respond to tragic events in a state in which you come up with long-term solutions, not quick fixes that just satisfy a politician or satisfy the media or anyone else. You've got to really figure out what is the real problem and what are the long-term solutions." 

Group home crisis

Earlier this week, outgoing Gov. Bev Perdue announced she would provide $1 million to avoid a problem that would lead to group home residents losing their placements. McCrory said that short-term fix should give him and the Republican General Assembly enough time to come up with a long-term fix.

"I'm already having discussions with my colleagues in the legislature," McCrory said. "I don't think we have any choice but to come up with a long-term solution."

McCrory said he was most concerned about residents of homes for Alzheimer's patients, who are in a slightly different situation from those in group homes due to other forms of mental illness but are still at risk of having to move from their current homes.

"I've had a mom who had Alzheimer's for 11 (or)12 years, and there was no way she could have been let out on the street at that point in time. It would not only have been harmful to her but to other people."


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