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Senator to renew gun control push after California shooting spree

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal addresses the Marching On conference on gun violence prevention in Middletown, Connecticut September 28, 201
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal addresses the Marching On conference on gun violence prevention in Middletown, Connecticut September 28, 201

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senator Richard Blumenthal said on Sunday he wanted to revive gun control legislation rejected by Congress in the wake of the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, school massacre, saying it could have helped prevent this weekend's deadly California shooting spree.

Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, said on CBS's "Face the Nation" program the legislation, which failed last year, could be revised to emphasize the mental condition of potential gun buyers.

"Obviously, not every kind of gun violence is going to be prevented by laws out of Washington," he said.

"But at least we can make a start and I am going to urge that we bring back those bills, maybe reconfigure them, center on mental health, which is a point where we can agree that we need more resources to make the country healthier and to make sure that these kinds of horrific, insane, mad occurrences are stopped.

"And the Congress will be complicit if we fail in that," he said.

On Friday night a 22-year-old college student identified as Elliot Rodger allegedly stabbed three people to death in his apartment in Santa Barbara, California, and then drove through the city and fatally shot three others with handguns he had legally bought. He later killed himself.

A YouTube video and a lengthy "manifesto" Rodger left behind were filled with rage and plans for "slaughtering" women because he felt they had rejected him.

Rodger had been visited by Santa Barbara authorities last month after a family member expressed concerns about him. Santa Barbara Sheriff Bill Brown said Rodger was courteous to the deputies and did not meet the criteria for legal intervention.

U.S. President Barack Obama made gun control a priority shortly after Adam Lanza, 20, killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown with an assault-style rifle and two handguns in December 2012.

The Newtown massacre, coming on top of other mass shootings, set off an intense national debate about gun violence. But a few months later the Senate defeated Obama's proposals to restrict sales of certain types of guns and require greater background checks.

Gun-rights groups, a powerful national political force, opposed the measures, saying they would infringe on Americans' constitutional rights.

Blumenthal said the defeated legislation could have given authorities in Santa Barbara a better chance to intervene in Rodger's case before the killings and would provide for "professionals trained in diagnosing and detecting this kind of derangement."

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence ranks California as the state with the strongest gun control measures, requiring background checks for all firearms sales, regardless of the type of gun or where it was purchased.

(Reporting by Bill Trott and Lisa Lambert; Editing by Jim Loney and Paul Simao)

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