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'Children deserve to be safe': Nebraskans running for Congress discuss solutions for mass shootings

Posted at 7:39 PM, May 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-25 20:39:51-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Over the last two and half decades, from Columbine to the most recent shooting in Texas, we’ve seen a wave of mass shootings occur in malls, churches and schools throughout the US.

3 News Now attempted to speak with the four people running for Congress in the Omaha area about the violence.

“What is anybody going to finally do about any of this?” said Democrat Patty Pansing Brooks.

Pansing Brooks, a Nebraska state senator who’s running in Nebraska's 1st Congressional District, says it’s time for Congress to do something about a seemingly constant wave of mass shootings.

“Enough of this. We need to come to a consensus to find common ground that makes sense, that protects the Second Amendment and moves forward, and also protect our citizens and our little kids in school,” said Pansing Brooks.

She says she wants to keep firearms available to Americans for hunting and self-defense. But for semi-automatic rifles, there needs to be training. She potentially supports a so-called red-flag law, which generally allows law enforcement to identify dangerous people and confiscate their guns.

“It depends on how the red-flag law is written, but yes, we need to make sure that the guns are not in the hands of the most dangerous in our community,” said Pansing Brooks.

Her opponent has different ideas.

“We have to focus on school safety,” said Flood.

State Senator Mike Flood is the Republican running for that same NE-1 seat. He says he wants to expand home and outpatient mental services for adults and juveniles but doesn’t seem to be in favor of gun restrictions.

“I’m not inclined to infringe on people's Second Amendment rights when they’re law-abiding citizens. And we have literally hundreds of thousands of Nebraskans that if they saw what was happening there, gun owners could stop something like that,” said Flood.

Flood said, if elected, he’d prioritize school safety; including ensuring every school has school resource officers and improvements to the physical infrastructure.

“The ability to use technology and the brick and mortar product that we have for schools and design them in such a way that we do have the safety of students in mind,” said Flood.

In Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District, which includes Omaha, Democrat Tony Vargas was visibly emotional about the shooting.

“Children deserve to be safe no matter where they are in our school system and in our communities and we need to work on that,” said Vagas.

He says he’d look to build bridges with Republicans if he was elected because we have to come together on this issue.

“I know that there are people willing to work across the aisle to do everything we can to address this issue and we actually have to have the conversations and then act on it and come together to do something,” said Vargas.

Republican Rep. Don Bacon is in the Baltics currently and could not interview. But he told 3 News Now three years ago, that he’s been against restricting semi-automatic firearms but has said — if written carefully — he’d be open to a red-flag law.

He also said in a statement it was one of the worst acts of depravity he’d ever seen and there are solutions that don’t infringe on Second Amendment rights.

That includes the "STOP School Violence Act, which provides annual funding for active shooter training, technology advancements and hard infrastructure improvements, including metal detectors.”

3 News Now reached out to all four U.S. Senators from Nebraska and Iowa. The only response was a communications staffer with Sen. Chuck Grassley, who invited us to a tele-press conference.

In that call with reporters on Wednesday, he urged Congress to pass the EAGLES Act, which gives the Secret Service tools to proactively manage school threats in order to potentially stop a school shooter.

Rep. Don Bacon’s full statement:

“I am heartbroken for the victims and their families of the school shooting in Texas. We send our prayers and comfort to all who have been affected by this horrific and evil incident. It was one of the worst acts of depravity we have seen. There are many ways to address this issue while respecting the Constitution.

“I cosponsored the Youth Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Act of 2021, and the Strengthen Kids’ Mental Health Now Act. I was an early supporter and original cosponsor of the School Resource Officer Act to help provide for our heroes standing as the first line of defense in schools. I also cosponsored the Active Shooter Alert Act to help warn the public and police when a dangerous shooter is on the loose, and the STOP School Violence Act which provides annual funding for active shooter training, technology advancements, and hard infrastructure improvements, including metal detectors.”

Rep. Adrian Smith’s full statement

"The tragedy in Uvalde, TX is the worst news imaginable for the community of Robb Elementary and our entire country. My deepest condolences go out to the victims’ families as we await further information about the situation."

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