President Obama and Republicans agree that mental health has to be a big part of the gun violence debate in Obama’s second term because people with serious mental illness shouldn’t have guns. Obama thinks he has the perfect solution: the mental health provisions in Obamacare, reports Politico. Republicans don't want to give him any credit, and that’s a lousy starting point for even a small bipartisan breakthrough on guns and mental health, the one place many advocates had hoped they could find common ground.
The Obama administration is playing up how the law will make access to treatment easier by extending health coverage to millions of Americans — the start to curbing shooters with a history of mental health problems like Jared Lee Loughner in Tuscon, Seung-Hui Cho at Virginia Tech, or James Holmes in Aurora, Co. That strategy presents a problem for Obama: By tying hopes for mental health and gun control in his second term to the most divisive achievement of his first term, he's left himself little hope of capitalizing on a rare moment of agreement on mental health to move a bill through Republican-controlled House. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), a psychologist who’s the new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee, had “hoped for more” from Obama on mental health issues, and he’s going to hold hearings on how to improve the nation’s mental health system because “the underlying cause in mass tragedies like Newtown is that the perpetrator had an untreated or undertreated mental illness.”