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Barber: Mental Health Care Funding Needed In Wake Of Mass Shootings

Arizona Rep. Ron Barber said more funding is needed for mental health care in the wake of a recent mass shooting in Santa Barbara, Calif. But getting congressional support won’t be easy.

Barber used an appearance on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show on Monday to outline a bill he’s introduced that would reinstate money for mental health care that Congress reduced in recent years.

"We’ve cut mental health funding by over $4 billion dollars, and that’s not just going to help us meet the issue, or meet the problem. So the bill that we have in play has to do with getting out in front of the mental health crisis before it actually takes place,” Barber said.

Barber, who is running for re-election, said among other things his bill would expand mental health programs in the Veteran’s Administration to deal with post traumatic stress disorder. He also said he’s supporting stricter background checks for gun buyers. 

Barber was wounded when a gunman shot him, then-Rep. Gabby Giffords and several others outside a Tucson supermarket in 2011. So far his bill only has support of Democrats and faces a tough battle in the Republican dominated House. 

KJZZ Senior Field Correspondent Steve Shadley is no stranger to the issues shaping Arizona.