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Forum staff reports, Published January 17 2013

Heitkamp calls for mass violence commission

WASHINGTON – Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., is supporting a bipartisan Commission on Mass Violence to address the causes of tragedies such as the Newtown, Conn., school shootings that left 28 dead a month ago, but said it’s “unnecessary to violate the Second Amendment to keep schools and children safe.”

In a written statement provided to The Forum on Thursday, Heitkamp said her “highest priority” will remain protecting the country’s children and securing schools. But she said ideas to curb gun violence presented by President Barack Obama on Wednesday weren’t “as broadly inclusive or exhaustive as the severity of this subject requires.”

“We must have a serious assessment of mental health services available to families and communities,” she wrote. “We must also do everything we can to identify potential perpetrators and prevent those individuals from ever taking the lives of innocent children.”

Heitkamp said she supports the idea of a bipartisan Commission on Mass Violence proposed by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., that would bring experts together to address the root causes of mass violence and develop a comprehensive plan.