Wolf weighs in on issue

Posted: January 25, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — As the battle lines over measures to reduce gun violence are drawn, U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-10th, is pushing his own solutions.

In a Tuesday letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Wolf called for the Justice Department to work toward a more thorough database of mental illness records — which could be checked when an individual tries to purchase a firearm, similar to the way an individual’s criminal background is examined.

Gun control has become a hot topic following the Dec. 14 killing of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

Since the shooting, Wolf has not taken a position on gun control policies, such as a ban on the sales of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

“I still need to look at the bills,” he said Thursday, adding that he plans to “look at everything.”

Wolf’s reluctance to come out in support of President Barack Obama’s proposals to prohibit the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines — bans Wolf supported in 1993 — could be an ominous sign for the prospects of gun control legislation, as support from congressional Republicans would be necessary for passage.

But Wolf has made his mind up on some steps he thinks should be taken immediately to help curb the number of mass shootings.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, he has helped increase funding to states to provide more mental health data to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Yet, few states are doing so, and Wolf would like the Justice Department to increase grants to states so that they provide more information to be used in background checks.

Wolf has yet to take a position on closing the so-called “gun show loophole,” which allows private dealers to skirt background checks.

He is calling for the establishment of a national center for public safety on school campuses at the Justice Department.

“It would be a one-stop location for schools to see what past practices for school security have worked,” he said.

His plan doesn’t call for funding for armed school security guards — an issue Wolf remains on the fence about.

The 17-term congressman said Thursday that violence in the media still needs to be addressed.

“I’m disappointed the [Obama] administration hasn’t addressed the issue of video game violence,” he said.

— Contact Conor Gallagher at cgallagher@winchesterstar.com