Governor Tom Corbett said Pennsylvania's reaction to the school shooting in Connecticut should deal more with mental illness than gun control.
Corbett appeared at the state Capitol for a news conference Thursday on a new government website, but he ended up answering several questions on gun control.
The governor said the main question in the wake of the Connecticut shootings is how we can keep legal weapons out of the hands of people with mental illnesses who could use them against someone.
The governor was asked twice if he would ever sign a bill that would ban assault weapons in Pennsylvania. He did not provide a direct response.
“It's a federal issue,” he said. “It's not going to come to my desk. I don't believe the states have the ability to stop that, especially if you look at the Constitution of Pennsylvania.”
Corbett also pointed out that Pennsylvania is one of the leading states when it comes to giving money to mental health programs, even though that amount has been dwindling in recent years because of a tighter budget.
“The assault weapons are already out there,” Corbett said. “A new ban isn't going to make them safer. I wish it would but it doesn't. If we work with mental health, hopefully that will make us safer.”
Senator Bob Casey spoke with abc27 News by satellite from Washington, D.C. and also stressed the need to focus on mental illness.
“There should be no sparing of resources to make sure that we provide mental health treatment to children and young people that need it,” Casey said.
Casey has opposed new gun laws, but now says he would support bills to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.