Jan 16, 2011 11:00 PM GMT
Here's one caucus you've never heard of: the Congressional Mental Health Caucus. And here's one Congressional hearing that would actually be productive...
Democratic Rep. Grace Napolitano of California and Republican Pennsylvania Rep. Tim Murphy, who founded the caucus in 2003, both acknowledged Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union" that more education and action is needed to improve the response to mental illness in the United States.
Napolitano said educating the public might not have prevented the shooting, but could have helped the alleged shooter before his actions rose to the level that resulted in last Saturday's attack. A motive for the shootings has not yet been determined, but many have pointed to warning signs surrounding suspect Jared Loughner before the attacks, citing red flags raised by classmates and school officials.
Murphy, who worked as a child psychologist before he was elected to Congress, said he hopes members of Congress and those in state Legislatures will be motivated to now "look carefully at their mental health systems and their involuntary commitment system laws," to prevent future attacks.
However, Napolitano was skeptical that the issue will remain in the spotlight.
"Every time there's a tragedy, there's a lot of hoopla for a month, two months, (it) dies down, goes away. Everybody forgets about it and we're on to the next thing," she said.
To prevent that trajectory, Murphy said he hopes to hold hearings to go through the events "piece by piece."
"I want to know where things stand on a state and federal level, what can be done," Murphy said. "We do want to know what happens and what else we can do in the federal level to provide assistance."