By Max Sullivan
Hampton Union, June 26, 2015
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
Former New York Goernor and GOP presidential hopeful George Pataki stands near the stranded boat Guestlist at Hampton Harbor recently. [Max Sullivan photo]
HAMPTON — A week after nine people were shot and killed at an African-American church in South Carolina, presidential hopeful George Pataki said he believes improving mental health treatment is the best solution for preventing gun violence, not stricter gun laws.
“The Left always says, ‘Take away people’s guns,’” Pataki said Wednesday morning during an interview in Hampton. “It’s not the guns. As long as you have a system that doesn’t really treat the violently mentally ill, we’re going to continually have instances like (the shooting in South Carolina).”
The former governor of New York announced his candidacy in May. Wednesday, he met with Hampton business owners at a private breakfast at Hampton Beach before attending a public picnic in New Castle.
During the interview, Pataki drew a connection between shootings and other acts of mass gun violence. He said that people with mental illnesses were involved in virtually all of those events.
“You have to have better programs to deal with the mentally ill,” Pataki said. “When we’ve had these tragic events at Virginia Tech, Columbine, the shooting of Gabby Giffords in Tucson, Newtown; in every one of those incidents, the shooter was obviously mentally ill.
“We have got to have mental health programs … for when someone is obviously mentally ill and a threat to engage in violence against others or themselves,” Pataki emphasized. “We have the ability to deal with that.”
Pataki said that as governor he signed a bill that allowed forced confinement in mental health facilities for people who were “clearly mentally ill and a threat of violence to themselves and others.”
“It was one of the reasons we drove down crime,” Pataki said.
Pataki said the federal government should not be dictating what states do to manage their gun laws, but he said he does support background checks. Pataki said he signed a bill in New York to require checks at private gun shows.
“But that’s a decision for states to make,” Pataki said.
Pataki also said he has a farm in upstate New York that is about an hour away from where two murderers recently escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, NY. He said he’s glad that “so many of us have guns” in that region to protect themselves.
“The state police can’t cover thousands of rural cabins over hundreds of miles of forests and fields,” Pataki said. “You’ve got to be able to protect yourselves.”