In response to the Muslim terrorism in San Bernardino on Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday argued that “mental illness” is a common “theme” among mass murderers in recent shooting sprees.
In San Bernardino, two Muslims—Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik—opened fire, killing 14 people and wounding 17 others in Farook’s government office building. In response to that, Ryan—the newly minted House Speaker—said it’s time for the House to take up a mental health bill.
“Well, first, Charlie, this is just a horrible event—my stomach turns as any American,” Ryan said early Thursday in an interview with CBS’s This Morning program:
You can’t help but watch this on TV and yell at the TV and say, ‘What can we do to prevent this from happening?’ So obviously we’re thinking of those things. This particular shooting in San Bernardino—there’s just too much unknowns before we speculate about the origin of this one. But what we have seen—and a common theme among many of these mass shootings—is a theme of mental illness. And we need to fix our mental illness laws, our policies. They’re outdated. And that is something that we are working on right now. We are moving a bill through the process here, the Murphy legislation, because we think that’s one of the more consistent and common themes—people with mental illness are getting guns and conducting these mass shootings.
Ryan pushed a bill from Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) that he was also pushing after the recent shooting at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Ryan said:
Without knowing the facts in San Bernardino, we also know there are homegrown jihadists. We also know that there are ISIS inspirational events. And we need to figure out how to handle that as well. So there are multiple things that need to be addressed and we are working on those that need to be addressed, including whether somebody is coming here or inspiring someone to do these things because of their ideological or religious reasons. Or the mental health issue, which we know is a common theme among these shootings, and that’s something we’re working on right now.
When asked to respond to President Barack Obama’s claims that people on the no-fly list can easily buy firearms—an argument Obama is using to push gun control—Ryan replied harshly:
On this particular issue, we do have a Constitution. Citizens have due process rights. Anyone can be arbitrarily placed on the no-fly list—in fact, that’s happened quite a bit. People have been arbitrarily placed on the no-fly list mistakenly, innocently. So we need to respect due process. So when we rush to act on these things, let’s make sure that we act accordingly. That we act according to citizen’s rights, the Constitution, oh, and let’s make sure what we do actually solves these problems. So that is why I think we need to pause and see what’s happening. That is why we are working on mental health already. So with respect to the no-fly list, I think it’s very important to remember people have due process rights in this country and we can’t have some government official just arbitrarily put them on a list. And by the way, if someone is suspected of terrorism—if someone in this country is planning a terrorist attack, or we think they’re planning a terrorist attack, we should arrest them. This is something that should be dealt with by law enforcement from a more pronounced position than maybe banning due process rights on a no-fly list. If we think someone is going to commit a terrorist attack, we should go pick them up.