Johnson: All options on table after shootingSenator declines to stake out clear positions; Thune and Noem similarly vague.
By: Denise Ross, The Daily Republic
All approaches to reducing gun violence should be on the table as the nation engages in a debate following the elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., said Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D.
“As a parent and grandparent, my thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their loved ones last Friday in the horrific shootings in Connecticut,” Johnson told reporters during a Wednesday teleconference. “This has ignited a dialogue about gun rights and mental health access.” Johnson said he is confident the nation’s leaders can “work together” to find “difficult solutions” to the issue.
“Everyone should be at the table — gun rights advocates, mental health professionals, sportsmen, victim advocates, law enforcement,” Johnson said. “Everyone should participate in the dialogue.”
Johnson declined to speak to specific policy measures he would support or oppose.
“I do not want to comment on any specific proposal until I’ve had a chance to study them. I will carefully consider any proposed legislation,” he said.
“Like most South Dakotans, I believe there are common sense solutions to complex issues such as this.”
Johnson said he’s long supported “responsible” use of firearms and also has worked to provide mental health programs with adequate resources. He also said he’s open to discussing anything that might counteract the kind of violence seen at Newtown.
“I’m open to discussion of the gun issues and the mental health issues and the video game issues. I’m open to everything.”
Neither of South Dakota’s other two congressional delegates, Sen. John Thune and Rep. Kristi Noem, both Republicans, has conducted a media teleconference since Friday’s shootings in Connecticut; nor has either issued a statement or press release about the tragedy on their respective websites.
After being contacted Wednesday by The Daily Republic, both issued statements to the newspaper including expressions of grief and general calls for action, but no specifics.
Thune said, “Our schools are meant to be safe havens for our children and a tragedy like this causes fear and anxiety for all parents across this nation. We reject this violence — it has no place in our society.
“As we evaluate what happened on that terrible day, we look to better understand ways we can prevent this type of violence from happening again.”
Noem said, “Our schools are places where our children are supposed to feel safe, and that sense of security was shattered last week. America is not a country where parents should fear sending their children to school.
“This kind of violence is not acceptable, and we need to examine the results of ongoing investigations and find the best way forward.”