HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - While presidential candidates have been debating gun control, the state of Alabama has already made strides to make the state safer. "There have been numerous instances across the country, random shootings and senseless shootings, some tied to mental illness, some not," said Charles Woodroof, Limestone County Probate Judge.
But those that were tied to mental illness sparked change among Alabama legislators. Just a month ago, probate judges, like Charles Woodroof, were only required to report the names of those committed involuntarily, who had threatened themselves or someone else with a weapon. Their names would be added to the denied person’s access file, which would prevent them from being able to legally buy a gun.
As of September 1, "That has now been opened to all involuntary impatient commitments," said Woodroof. “In the climate that the country's in, this evidently is something that the legislature in Montgomery felt strong about, to put something in place for the state of Alabama."
Donald Trump spoke in Tennessee Saturday, mentioning a broken mental healthcare system as one of the issues that needed to be addressed, saying guns weren't the problem. Currently 42 million people need mental health treatment, and only 19 million get it. According the national survey on drug use and health, that's because most can't afford the treatment. In Alabama, four state-run facilities have closed down since 2011, making getting into a treatment facility more difficult.
Woodroof says there is hope for those with mental illnesses in Alabama to have their guns rights reinstated, but only if they can receive the care they need. "Some one that has a serious mental illness, with proper medication, therapy and treatment can lead a normal healthy life," said Woodroof.
Congressman Robert Aderholt released a statement Monday morning saying, "The shooting in Oregon is certainly a tragedy and I know that these victims and their families are in the thoughts and prayers of Americans across the nation. While this is a senseless act, I am not convinced more gun laws would have prevented this. It’s clear that the shooter in this case had no regard for the laws or human life. More restrictive gun laws tend to only hurt law abiding citizens, not deranged individuals such as this individual."