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Congresswoman Tenney says "defund & demoralizing police movement" is one contributing factor of recent mass shootings

Rep. Tenney
Posted at 9:05 PM, May 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-26 21:05:42-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — In the wake of mass shootings in Buffalo and a school in Texas that killed a combined 31 people, including 19 children, Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (R) spoke to 7 News Reporter Michael Schwartz in a phone interview about gun rights, and gun legislation.

Tenney is running for re-election in New York's newly re-designed 24th district, which now includes neighbors in Niagara, Orleans, Wyoming and Genesee counties.

"I don’t think I can just say there’s a problem with guns, there’s a problem with people who get access to guns," said Tenney. "There’s a problem with mental illness you see this throughout our society, there’s a problem with reporting mental illness we have a problem."

"It's not just the fact these guns are out there," said Tenney. "It's [that] people can't handle guns, and their own lives."

"America is having so many mass shootings and the other countries have mental illnesses," questioned Schwartz.

Tenney told Schwartz that along with mental illness there are other factors that she feels have contributed to the recent "egregious" mass shootings, including the "breakdown of morality in our society, and the defund and demoralizing police movement."

"The other countries do not defund and demoralize police like we do," replied Tenney. "Other countries hold people accountable, other countries have censorship they have authoritarian regimes they don’t live in a free society in many cases like we do." She went on to add, "School shooters have been around before and after the SAFE Act," said Tenney. "It's a horrible tragedy, but I don't think it's so simple to say, we have a gun problem, that's what they want you to say."

Tenney questioned how the teen, suspected of killing 10 people at Tops in Buffalo, could've purchased a gun, less than a year after he was evaluated in a mental health screening and then released. Last week Governor Kathy Hochul signed an executive order to make Red Flag laws tougher, making a person's past flagged to gun stores.

Tenney voted against H.R. 8, as did Rep. Chris Jacobs (R). Rep. Brian Higgins (D) voted in favor of it. The bill would establish new background check requirements for firearm transfers between private parties. It specifically would keep a firearm transfer between private parties unless a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer or importer first takes possession of the firearm to conduct background checks.

"I wish H.R. 8 would solve the problem," said Tenney.

The congresswoman said she recently spoke to Rep. Tony Gonzales (R), who represents the Texas district where 19 children and two adults were killed in Tuesday's mass shooting at an Uvalde elementary school.

Gonzales told reporters on Thursday that H.R. 8 would not have prevented Tuesday's shooting.

The 18-year-old suspected shooters in both Buffalo and Texas both used AR-style rifles in the mass shootings that were bought legally in New York and Texas.

In Texas, an individual must be 21 to buy a handgun but at least 18 to buy a rifle.

"I've heard multiple people say if we passed H.R. 8, all of these shooters would still go out to do this," said Tenney. "We pass strict gun laws people are still going to do this because we’re not addressing underlying problems that are causing people to be so deranged, and so unstable that they’re even able to conceive these things."

Schwartz asked Tenney if putting restrictions on AR-15 guns would help prevent mass shootings. Tenney replied:

If you just take away the guns you're going to continue having mass killings because I think it's something else in society and a breakdown of morality that I think is happening.
Rep. Claudia Tenney (R - NY 24th District)

Tenney said society has to stop "doing the superficial analysis" when it comes to taking guns away and making restrictions. "That's not going to stop people from getting illegal guns," she said.

Schwartz also asked Tenney if she thought Congress is open to talking about restricting assault rifles.

"I don't think that's going to happen in Congress, I don't think that would pass in the House or the Senate," said Tenney. "I don't think it would have 100% democrat support, because AR-style rifles are things our military trains with and people feel comfortable with and can use them safely."

"We didn't have school shootings when people were accountable, and police were respected," said Tenney, who added there's a lack of responsibility in society.

"It's not just guns that are the problem," said Tenney. "There wasn't a single firearm shot on 9/11/2001, yet almost 3,000 people died, because of box cutters on a plane," said Tenney. Firearms have been banned on planes decades before the 2001 terrorist attacks.

"I think everyone wants to come together and find a solution to this, that's all that everyone is thinking about," said Tenney. "Especially with two weeks in a row and trying to get to root causes, unfortunately when these get politicized by both sides, and we have to get to root causes."