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Gov. Steve Beshear: Open Debate on Gun Control, Mental Health is Needed

In the wake of last week's shooting death of 26 people at aNewtown, Conn., elementary school,Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear is joining a chorus of public officials who say a national debate on gun control and mental health is needed.Beshear is typically friendly to the National Rifle Association. Earlier this year, the organization praised him for signing three NRA-backed bills, including one that blocks cities from passing stricter firearms laws than the state. And Beshear wouldn't comment Thursday on specific proposals. But Beshear said Thursday that he's keeping an open mind about the gun control issue. “And I think it says to all of us, whether you’re in public office or in the private sector, that we all ought to be open to looking and thinking about any and all options out there to protect our children,” he said. The governor also says the issue must be discussed on a national level, because state-by-state regulations would have a weak effect. President Barack Obama has proposed a task forceto look at such issues, as well as come out in favor of a renewed assault weapons ban. Beshear said that school safety and mental health need to be on the forefront of addressing the safety issues wrought from the Newtown shootings, too. “I know that some issues about gun control are now being discussed. And I think they ought to be discussed," Beshear said. "I think we ought to all listen and see if there are things that we can do to better protect our children. I’m a strong supporter of the Second Amendment but to me this isn’t about the Second Amendment, this is about the safety of our kids." Beshear says school safety and mental health issues should also be part of the debate.

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