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Rep. Steve Cohen wants gun background checks, but says mental health is important, too

Rep. Steve Cohen, Tennessee Democrat, responded to critics of an editorial cartoon he tweeted that many said blamed the National Rifle Association for the gun culture of the United States.

"I got the vitriol on Twitter from all the people who oppose this cartoon," Mr. Cohen said on MSNBCs "Now with Alex Wagner" on Wednesday. "Their guns are right there next to their bibles, I'm not sure which is more important to them."

The cartoon depicted a rifle with "NRA" stamped on the cheek rest. A logo of the Washington Navy Yard, the Washington Monument and the Capitol can all be seen in the cartoon.

He called on the NRA to use its influence with gun enthusiasts to work to eliminate gun violence across the country.

"The NRA has control of the process here with contributions and more than that with the grip on one-issue people who are vitriolic in their defense of the second amendment," Mr. Cohen said. "There are going to be more killings, and we have to do something, even if it's only a mental health bill."

Mr. Cohen said he's eager to see legislation introduced for stricter gun control and said he would be happy to support Sen. Mark Begich, Alaska Democrat, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire Republican, in their push to handle mental health as a standalone issue in the Senate.

"I'd like to see background checks and strong background checks, but I think if you at least get mental health, that's important," he said.

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