A legislative task force created in the last General Assembly session to examine the intersection of gun violence and mental health issues has yet to meet. The panel is unlikely to meet a January deadline for reporting its findings.
The mental health task force was one of the few gun-related bills to win approval at the General Assembly. State Representative Deborah Ruggiero, a Jamestown Democrat, is the co-chair of the group. She says meeting the January deadline for reporting findings is less important than doing a thorough job.
"I don’t think anyone on the task force wants to be governed by a deadline. We want to do really comprehensive work – ask good questions, find solutions. It’s a very delicate issue, weighing public safety, gun ownership and mental health issues," said Ruggiero.
The shooting deaths of 13 people earlier this week at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., put renewed attention on the connection between violence and mental health. The gunman, Aaron Alexis, told police during an August visit to Newport that he was hearing voices and being followed.
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