The nation is in mourning after two mass shootings last weekend took more than 30 lives in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.
Many are looking to the lawmakers that represent them and demanding legislative action, including here in Michigan.
State Representative Hank Vaupel is a Republican from Fowlerville, and serves as chair of the House Health Policy Committee.
Vaupel says that he’s “appalled” by the recent shootings and notes that each of the perpetrators of these crimes appear to have been affected by some mental health issue. When it comes to reducing the threat of gun violence in Michigan, Vaupel says continuing to improve the state’s mental health care system has to “be our first priority.”
But Vaupel has not voiced support for any legislation that would place restrictions on gun access. Instead, he says that current laws should be better enforced in order to prevent criminals and those struggling with mental illness from accessing weapons.
“I think [the solution is] more complex than just saying, ‘well, let's make it harder to get weapons' or 'let's just ban weapons,’” Vaupel said.
When asked why the United States is the only nation where mass shootings occur so regularly, Vaupel pointed to the existence of hate groups on “all sides,” and the entertainment industry. But he notes that no factor is “singularly responsible” for the ongoing issue of gun violence.
Vaupel says that he would love to see inflammatory rhetoric in political discourse and on social media toned down.
“Society in general has to accept the responsibility for this. [Every] one of us has to accept some responsibility, and go out there and either tone down our rhetoric or identify people, or try to help,” Vaupel said.
This post was written by Stateside production assistant Isabella Isaacs-Thomas.