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Blunt Plans To Focus On Mental Health Issues Over Gun Control

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio

At a St. Louis community health center Friday, Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri touted his plans to improve mental health services in the United States.

Blunt has introduced the “Excellence in Mental Health Act,” legislation that would, among other things, increase federal funding for community mental health centers.

Blunt says this is what he will focus on in  his response to recent mass shooting tragedies -- instead of restrictions on guns which he says are unlikely to pass.

"I’m going to decide the best way to deal with this problem to put my personal effort," Blunt said. "I think it happens to be more likely that we’re going to get something positive done on health care part of this agenda than the other part (gun control).”

"I'm not for something that stops two neighbors from trading shotguns or a grandfather giving his 16 year old grandson a .22 for Christmas," Blunt said.

He was pressed further by reporters, with one asking what if that 16 year old has a mental illness.

"You and I can debate this all afternoon, I told you what I'm for," Blunt responded. "I have the sense that the most ground is to be gained now in the mental health field, but I'm happy to look at anything the majority brings to the floor."

Blunt estimates the bill would be a funding increase of around a hundred million dollars, but admitted sequestration could complicate things.

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel