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Oregon Tragedy Spurs Rep. Murphy To Re-Double Efforts To Pass Mental Health Bill

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- For U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, an Upper St. Clair Republican, the issue of gun violence and mental health has become very personal.

"When I heard the news, I wept," Murphy told KDKA political editor Jon Delano late Friday.

Murphy, a practicing psychologist, has championed a bill to improve mental health treatment for those who might turn violent.

"It is incredibly frustrating and distressing that once again we have this problem, likely once again it's someone with untreated mental illness, and we're not addressing it," says Murphy.

Murphy says his bill will increase the likelihood that would-be perpetrators get treatment -- and that's key.

"People who have serious mental illness that is treated are 15 times less likely to be violent than people who are untreated, so we have to have available treatment. secondly, we have to get treatment to them early in their life."

The suburban Pittsburgh congressman says too many are not properly identified with brain disease that makes them ineligible for gun purchase, and too often their names are not placed on the NICS or National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

"A lot of judges don't advance those names to the NICS list and a lot of hospitals don't advance those names because they say it's privacy laws. They can't do it. Those have to be cleaned up," insists Murphy.

Of course, all the bills in Washington mean nothing if Congress doesn't act on them.

Murphy's mental health bill has been bottled up in the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

On Friday, a spokesperson for the Committee told KDKA that both the Republican chairman and the ranking Democrat want to move Murphy's bill through the committee to the House floor for a vote, but so far they have no timetable for making that happen.

That's another frustration for the Republican congressman but..

"I'm not giving up on this. In the world of politics, everybody is playing their games," says Murphy.

"When we next week have another one of those moments of silence, as we should, reflecting on the sadness of that tragedy, I'm not going to be silent."

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