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Murkowski has concerns with gun bans as reaction to violence

February 23, 2018

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski speaks to reporters after addressing a joint session of the Alaska Legislature on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, in Juneau, Alaska. The Alaska Republican touched on a number of topics in addressing lawmakers and reporters, including steps that she said could be taken to help address violence in this country. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Thursday that steps can be taken to address a “growing trend” of mass shootings and increased violence, including doing more to help individuals with mental illnesses and fixing problems in background check systems.

But she questioned whether banning certain types of guns is part of the answer, suggesting there are other options for people intent on causing harm, such as using chemicals or vehicles.

As a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, “I want to make sure that when we’re talking about guns and weapons that we are not putting ourselves in a situation where we think we have solved the problems because we have banned one particular weapon,” the Alaska Republican said told reporters after addressing a joint session of the state Legislature. “This is a multi, multi-headed issue that we are dealing with, and we all know that.”

Her comments followed a shooting at a Florida high school last week in which 17 people were killed. She told state lawmakers there is no simple fix to violence but how the country responds to cries for help from people who have mental illnesses “before they do harm” must be part of any solution.

“We cannot have continued congressional impasse, where we have a tragedy happen, we all express our condolences, we then lock into our political stances and nothing is done until the next tragedy hits and then we express our outrage all over again,” she said, adding later: “If the senseless death of children cannot bring us together to find solutions, I don’t know what can.”

Alaska’s U.S. senators traditionally address the state Legislature each year, providing updates on their work in Washington, D.C. Murkowski said the past year has been a good one for the state, including military investments and the passage of legislation to allow for oil and gas development on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an issue that top state leaders from both parties have long supported.

But she said she expects lawsuits that will challenge development activity in the refuge and urged Alaskans to speak “with one voice” at the national level.

During a wide-ranging news conference, Murkowski said she is exploring ways to address uncertainty created by a shift in federal policy for marijuana businesses licensed by the state.

She also said she is concerned with Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and supports allowing the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller to continue unimpeded.

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