Ribble hosts listening sessions in wake of Sandy Hook shootings

APPLETON — In light of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting last month, one local congressman says he's looking for ways to prevent gun violence in schools.
    
Reid Ribble hosted roundtable meetings Tuesday.
    
It included law enforcement, mental health and education professionals.

"We want to prevent a Sandy Hook incident from ever happening again,” said U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble, R-8th District.

Congressman Ribble and community leaders came together Tuesday to start the difficult discussion of school safety, guns and mental illness.

The day started with a group of mental health advocates in Appleton.

"It's great to start this dialogue. But we have a long way to go to talk about it, especially around stigma,” said Karen Schiller, National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Ribble also hosted a meeting with law enforcement which was closed to the media.

Ribble said he wants to hear everyone's views on the topics.

“There's not total agreement. Just listening to part of the mental health debates, law enforcement would like to see a national database so that they can identify those people prone to violence who might have a mental disorder,” said Ribble.

Mental health professionals at this meeting said they wouldn't support such a database.

"I think what would be more effective would be looking at our treatment laws. Balancing civil rights, and getting people treatment,” said Schiller.

The mental health community brought up the idea of screening for mental illness in schools.
Some educators at the afternoon session in Green Bay said they have concerns about such screenings.

"I would have to know more about the screenings to know what it would entail. We certainly have to respect the privacy rights of individuals in all the screenings,” said Brian Hanes, Ashwaubenon School District superintendent.

Some school officials also said they would like to see more security. But, most don't support arming teachers.

“These are all things that require a broader conversation,” said Ribble.

Whether it's more funding for safety and mental health or fewer guns on the streets, Ribble said he'd prefer to see Congress take its time to provide the best long-term solution.

These roundtable discussions come after much debate in Washington over gun violence.
    
The Obama administration released its gun control proposal two weeks ago.

Copyright 2014 WLUK TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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