Credit: New York Magazine
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley says after this week’s deadly school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee the focus needs to shift to combat the mental health crisis rather than on new legislation to ban assault weapons.
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“My heart fell like everybody else’s when we heard about Nashville,” the former ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina governor said at a town hall on the campaign trail in Salem, New Hampshire on Tuesday.
She pointed to a mass shooting in 2015 at a Black church in Charleston, SC, during her tenure as governor. Haley told the audience, “I’ve been through my share of tragedies in South Carolina when I was governor. We don’t want to see that happen. How much longer is this country going to ignore mental health. It is a cancer, and it is killing our kids.”
“We need to focus on what really matters. Mental health is the cancer that no one is talking about. One in four people have a mental health issue,” Haley emphasized minutes later, in a national exclusive interview with Fox News Digital. “But if treated they live a perfectly normal life. It is horrific what happened in Nashville. It’s clear that that woman needed help. And so, we’ve got to make sure we’re doing that.”
Following the horrific shooting on Monday, President Biden again called on Congress to pass an assault weapons ban.
“We have to do more to stop gun violence. It’s ripping our communities apart,” the president urged in a statement from the White House.
“I call on Congress again to pass my assault weapons ban.”
Haley disagreed with the president.
“To sit there and say that it’s just a gun issue is a lazy way out,” Haley said.
“We need to acknowledge the whole issue. And the whole issue is she [the shooter in Nashville] was struggling and there was nobody there to help her.”
She was asked by Fox News if she would consider an assault weapons ban if she were president. She said, “I don’t deal with hypotheticals. I’m not going to deal with hypotheticals. We’re not going to go down that route. What I will tell you is we’re going to deal with mental health once and for all.”
Haley also said that “we also need to talk about changing what we do with school safety. We need to have one entrance in and out. We need to have a law enforcement officer on every campus. And if we have to have metal detectors, we should do it. Our kids see them in airports. It’s OK if they see them in schools if that’s what it takes.”
“We need to have one specialized mental health professional that does nothing but look for these issues. After COVID, we’ve got a lot of people with stress, anxiety, depression. They can’t even find a therapist now,” Haley added.
“We need to make sure we have treatment out there for them. Whether it’s doing it by telehealth. Whether it’s doing it by seeing someone, we’ve got to start getting people the help they need.”
Democrats are appalled at Haley’s stance on an assault weapons ban.
“It’s appalling that in the aftermath of another school shooting, Nikki Haley is, once again, standing in opposition to meaningful gun safety laws,” longtime New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley told Fox News.
Buckley said that “Haley has proven that while she’s more interested in scoring political points with the MAGA base, Granite Staters can’t count on her to keep our children safe.”
Haley is the only well-known Republican to challenge Donald Trump at this time.