Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says mental health is “a focal point” in gun reform conversation


As communities call for gun reform in wake of the elementary school mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, legislators are attempting to reach a mutual understanding — one that Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson says has mental health at the forefront. While Hutchinson says he fully supports the Second Amendment, which grants the right to bear arms, he agrees that adjustments can be made. 

“We really do not want to take away the right of our citizens to protect themselves, to enjoy it, whether it is a type of gun that is a semiautomatic,” Hutchinson told “CBS Mornings.” 

He called on legislators to “get away from being so divided and say ‘Is there something we can agree upon?'”

The Republican politician, who served on the National Rifle Association’s School Safety Task Force following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, said looking into who can purchase and own weapons is a critical aspect within the gun reform conversation. 

“I think what you’ve got to look at are those with mental health issues and that’s a focal point,” Hutchinson said. “We want to keep them out of the hands of those that can do this kind of harm and then secondly, again I think you have to look at the level of maturity whenever you have semiautomatics that can do the damage that we see with the AR-15 style weapon.”

He said legislators are discussing the expansion of background checks, increasing security investments for schools and other sectors as well as promoting mental health initiatives. He also mentioned conversations regarding an increased age requirement of buying guns from 18 to 21, but added that he does not believe in restricting weaponry types for those over the age of 21.

“I think we need to look at that more deeply,” the governor said regarding age limits. 

Hutchinson noted that while ideas on gun reform such as adding more security guards to public places, may not be the same solution others have in mind, that “it does protect our citizens and that is something that is absolutely essential.” 

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