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Katko says he is open to some new gun laws

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Rep. John Katko (right) meets with Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh and the owners of Recess Coffee at an event in Syracuse.

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said he wants to address the issue of mass shootings, especially in schools., and there are some measures Katko is signaling he could support.  

Following the school shooting in Florida last month, Katko said he is open to considering a universal background check on guns and raising the age to purchase assault weapons to 21. He said the biggest issue with mass shootings is mental health, which he said is sadly under-addressed.

“If someone seems to have a mental health issue or showing any sort of signs of wanting to commit a mass shooting or do harm to themselves, there should be a mechanism by which people can intervene to get those weapons out of their hands," Katko said. "All of this doesn’t do anything to take away from a person’s Second Amendment rights.”  

Katko said he would support a nationwide “red flag law” to remove weapons from someone deemed mentally unfit.

"In the mental health arena, there is a very small component, very small number, with mental health issues that seem to be involved in some of these mass shootings on a regular basis," Katko said. "We need to address that."

He would not say if he would support a ban on assault weapons but reiterated that he wants all weapons kept out of the hands of people who should not have them.

Some of his critics say Katko cannot be objective when it comes to guns because he has received donations from the National Rifle Association. Katko took in more than $9,000 dollars from NRA backed groups in the last election.

“If I was beholden to that group, I wouldn’t be making these proposals,” Katko said. "I always do what’s right for my constituents, whether or not whoever’s donating to me, it doesn’t really matter to me at all."

Katko is ahead by about $1 million in fundraising over the designated Democratic candidate Dana Balter in the race for the 24th Congressional District, which includes all of Onondaga, Cayuga and Wayne counties and the western part of Oswego County.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.