A deadly shooting in a darkened theater in Lafayette has really brought home two important issues for this year's candidates for Governor of Louisiana. The issue of gun control and the issue of mental health. That is the focus of this weeks "Ask The Candidates" series as published by the Louisiana Radio Network.

Here is what John Bel Edwards, Jay Dardenne, David Vitter, and Scott Angelle had to say when asked about the issues of guns and mental health.

Republican Jay  Dardenne suggested that identifying those individuals who should not be allowed to purchase weapons is an area that needs improvement. He suggested that the laws on the books are quite appropriate but there needs to be a deeper investment in funding mental health care within the state.

We need assessment and treatment options that will be cost effective for Louisianians. Not only is this the right and humane thing to do, it also has the potential to reduce the high cost of incarceration for nonviolent offenders.

David Vitter, another Republican candidate says the issue of mental health is one that needs to be addressed now and not later. He suggested that the issue would be a part of his platform.

In terms of policy, I think this certainly highlights the need to focus on mental health issues and in fact that is already addressed in my plan, the plan I'm building my run for Governor on.

Democrat John Bel Edwards addressed the issue this way,

I am committed to reinvesting in mental health services for our citizens. I am committed to preventing violence in as many instances as possible by treating mental health and rehabilitating the mentally ill to save our lives and theirs.

Edwards went on to say that he has been addressing this issue for some time now. He stated that it was impossible to put a price on the benefits and need for better mental healthcare and he was going to continue his fight to see that those who were suffering would have the proper care available.

Republican Scott Angelle suggested in his comments that the scrutiny placed on people wishing to own guns would need to be balanced by better background checks and verification. He is concerned that horrific events such as what happened in Lafayette would take away the rights of lawfully abiding people.

I don't believe it's good public policy to make it more difficult for law abiding citizens to have access to a constitutional right to bear arms.

The voters of Louisiana will go to the polls on October 24th to elect a new Governor.

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