Well Franken has clarified his support for a ban on assault weapons both in the local and national press:Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) appeared to be taking a cautious route on President Barack Obama's proposal for a renewed ban on assault weapons, after a spokesman declined comment Wednesday on whether he supported the ban and omitted it from a list of gun control steps Franken would support.
The Rochester Post-Bulletin reported that at an event in Rochester, Minn., Franken said he supported limiting magazines more than 10 rounds and tightening background checks. Franken did not mention the assault weapons ban and his spokesman Marc Kimball told the paper, "I guess I don't have an answer for you."
"He's been listening to Minnesota, trying to be thoughtful on this and trying to get input from people from a wide spectrum of views," said Kimball. - Huffington Post, 1//17/13
So in case you had any doubts about Franken defecting on banning assault weapons, rest assure that Franken has and will always support a ban on assault weapons. Here's Franken's full statement:Responding to a report Thursday that suggested otherwise, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) made it clear in a statement that he supports "the principle that we should reinstate a ban on assault weapons" and said he "will carefully review any proposal to do that."
A story in the Post-Bulletin of Rochester, Minn. quoted a Franken spokesman who said he didn't "have an answer" on whether the Democrat supported a ban. The report also suggested that Franken did not mention an assault weapons ban when he rattled off the list of his favored White House gun control proposals during a Wednesday press avail in Rochester.
But a Franken aide told TPM that the junior senator from Minnesota has "consistently supported" a reinstatement to the ban, and that the junior senator from Minnesota was actually not aware of President Barack Obama's exact proposals due to scheduling conflicts on Wednesday.
"He was in a meeting yesterday morning during the President’s press conference and then held a press avail directly after the meeting concluded, prior to being informed of the President’s proposals," the aide told TPM in an email Thursday. - TPM, 1/17/13
Emphasis mine.“My heart is heavy over the tragedy that occurred in Connecticut and my thoughts are with those who are grieving. I’ve always supported the Second Amendment rights of Minnesotans to own firearms for collection, protection, and sport. But I also think we need to find a balance between those rights and the safety of our children and our communities. I co-sponsored legislation to large clips like those used in so many mass shootings. I also support the principle that we should reinstate a ban on assault weapons, and I will carefully review any proposal to do that. We need to make sure we don’t have weapons out there that are really designed for the battlefield, and not for hunting. In the days and weeks ahead, I’m going to consult closely with all of the affected communities in the state – and that includes people like hunters, educators, parents, and other elected officials – about the best path forward.” - U.S. Senator Al Franken (D. MN), 1/17/13
Glad to hear Franken clear up any confusion that any of us might have. Franken not only supports the assault weapons ban but also wants to hire more mental health professionals in public schools so children with mental health issues have someone they can trust to talk to:
According to the Minnesota School Counselors Association, Minnesota has the second-lowest ratio of school counselors to students in the nation, with about one counselor for every 800 students.More access to mental health professionals is actually a very good idea. Ron Honberg, policy and legal affairs at the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), has stated that one of the biggest problems with helping treat mental illness early on is the reluctance about revealing the nature of their mental disorder or illness:
Gary Amoroso, executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA), said the state's budget woes have made it difficult to hire counselors and social workers at schools. MASA plans to push the Legislature for more money to do so in 2013.Franken, a member of the Senate Education Committee, said he's pushed for more appropriations for school counselors since he joined the Senate in 2009.
With more mental health professionals in schools, he said, there's a better chance of stopping "someone who becomes a shooter, in a way that's happened in so many of these shootings." - Star Tribune, 1/7/13
People often fear that exposing their illness could affect employment or lead to social rejection or insensitive comments, Honberg said.Franken recognizes both aspects of the major problem here and I applaud him for willing to do what's right on both accounts. Show Al some love, donate to his 2014 campaign:
It can also be a barrier to seeking treatment at a time when we need better access to mental health care.
And access, Honberg added, means more than just health insurance and medication, but also help with employment, housing and other quality-of-life issues:
"Pumping someone with medication isn't going to do the trick," Honberg said. "We have to give people reasons to live, help with employment and help developing meaningful social relationships." - PBS News Hour, 12/18/12