HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS/AP) — Pennsylvania’s auditor general is calling for expanded access to mental health services as a way to combat gun violence. The suggestion comes from a set of recommendations he says would help combat gun deaths and violence without requiring any changes to existing law.
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale released a 20-page report on Tuesday that recommends expanded access to mental health services and a program to encourage more gun owners to store firearms and ammunition safely.
“We cannot continue to sit idly by while so many Pennsylvanians are killed or injured,” DePasquale said. “More than 1,500 Pennsylvanians died as a result of firearms in 2016 – on average, that’s four funerals held every day.
“Beyond the tragic human toll, firearm-related violence carries enormous costs to society,” he added. “Over the last decade, firearm-related injuries cost Pennsylvania taxpayers about $1.5 billion in health care costs because 76 percent of shooting victims were either uninsured or publicly insured.”
It says county sheriffs should be calling references on concealed carry permit applications before they issue the permits, and the state police should issue regular reports on guns traced from crimes.
DePasquale, a Democrat, says there were 1,555 firearms deaths in Pennsylvania in 2016, and nearly two-thirds of them were suicides.
A spokesman for Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf says the administration supports the report’s direction and will work to implement recommendations from it.
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