‘Do something!’: Republican senator heckled as she blames mass shootings on mental illness

Lily Puckett

A Republican senator was booed and heckled by her constituents when she was challenged about America's gun control laws.

At a town hall in her home state of Iowa, a teacher told Joni Ernst that she had recently been asked to listen to sounds to "determine if they were gunshots or not."

The educator who did not reveal her name, added that she had "asked to be trained to man a family reunification centre to provide counselling to parents seeking their children following a catastrophic event."

Questioning the senator, she said: "When can I plan to get back to trainings that simply teach children to read and write?"

Ms Ernst, who is up for re-election in 2020, replied: "A lot of the incidents we've seen do come back to mental illness."

The crowd immediately broke out into boos, while some shouted “do something!” and “what about the guns?”

As Ms Ernst responded by saying that America had been through many hardships, a member of the audience cried out: “It’s not the same.”

As she went on to suggest that America was “short on” mental health resources, a member of the audience called out: “We’re short congresspeople that take action.”

The crowd applauded.

The town hall took place two weeks after back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio led to calls for politicians to reconsider US gun laws.

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Led by president Donald Trump, Republicans have questioned the mental health of the killers.

Others have blamed violence in video games - a theory which has been widely discredited.

Ms Ernst, meanwhile, went on to claim that she was in support of gun control laws already in existence, and attempted to steer the town hall towards other issues.

But over half the audience’s questions concerned gun control laws, according to the Iowa Starting Line website.

One member shouted: “We need you to protect us.”

Ms Ernst, who was not helped by a moderator, replied: “So we’ll go ahead and move on?”

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