Democrat Adam Smith blames both liberals AND Republicans for recent spike in mass


Every time a mass shooting occurs in the United States – and there have been 212 so far this year – leaders on both sides of the political aisle reflexively retreat to the same blame game: the right pointing to mental illness, the left saying relaxed gun laws are the real issue. 

‘It’s both, okay,’ said Washington Rep. Adam Smith, 26-year congressman and top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. 

‘The unbelievably easy access to weapons that we have in this country combined with a number of people who are not in good mental health to create an enormous problem, it’s both. It’s not an either or thing,’ he told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview. 

The lawmaker falls at the crossroads of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the centrist, problem-solving New Democrats group. 

‘When you say that mental health matters, you’re not saying that you don’t care about the guns, we need lesser access to guns,’ he said. 

'It's both, okay,' said Washington Rep. Adam Smith, 26-year congressman and top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee said of mental illness and gun laws contributing to violence

‘It’s both, okay,’ said Washington Rep. Adam Smith, 26-year congressman and top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee said of mental illness and gun laws contributing to violence 

'The unbelievably easy access to weapons that we have in this country combined with a number of people who are not in good mental health to create an enormous problem, it's both. It's not an either or thing,' he told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview

‘The unbelievably easy access to weapons that we have in this country combined with a number of people who are not in good mental health to create an enormous problem, it’s both. It’s not an either or thing,’ he told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview

Last week a gunman at an outdoor mall in Allen, Texas, opened fire with an AR-15 and killed eight people. President Biden renewed his call for an assault weapons ban; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer convened Democrats to talk gun legislation. 

But faced with a poll on Fox News showing Americans favor background checks and raising the minimum age to purchase firearms, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott pivoted to mental health. 

‘We are working to address that anger and violence by going to its root cause, which is addressing the mental health problems behind it,’ Abbott said. ‘People want a quick solution. The long-term solution here is to address the mental health issue.’   

‘I think the whole nation should be leading,’ Speaker Kevin McCarthy said this week in response to a question on whether Congress should take the lead on the gun violence discussion. 

Last time Congress took major action on gun control was in June 2022, a month after a gunman in Uvalde, Texas, killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school. 

The law included $750 million to help enact ‘red flag’ laws in states throughout the country and offered funding for mental health and school security. It also enhanced background checks for gun buyers under 21 and closed the boyfriend loophole – so those convicted of domestic violence against dating partners cannot purchase weapons. 

People attend a vigil, four days after a gunman shot and killed multiple people at the Dallas-area Allen Premium Outlets mall in Allen, Texas, U.S. May 10

People attend a vigil, four days after a gunman shot and killed multiple people at the Dallas-area Allen Premium Outlets mall in Allen, Texas, U.S. May 10

A year on, not much has changed – at this point last year, there had been fewer mass shootings: 183. 

In 2016, there were 15,139 deaths from guns, by all manner of causes. From the start of this year to the current day, there have been more than that – 15,306. 

Asked if he thought any sort of gun package could get done with a Republican-led House and Democrat-run Senate, Smith said: ‘No, is the honest answer.’ 

‘Republicans have made it perfectly clear that they have no intention of doing anything about this because they operate under the delusion that the more guns the safer we are.’ 

Meanwhile, the debate continues over how to best handle the soaring homelessness and mental illness that has been distressing liberal cities from New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle, in Smith’s home state, at a time of rising crime after the Covid-19 pandemic. 

For the rise in social discord, Smith pointed to ‘the lack of involuntary commitment in so many places in this country. We’ve shut down a lot of these institutions. We’ve stood up community based care.’

‘Do not underestimate the impact of individual mental health issues, even seemingly minor ones, on the level of conflict and instability in our society,’ he writes at the start of his forthcoming memoir, Lost and Broken, obtained by DailyMail.com. 

Just last week the killing on the subway of a homeless, mentally ill man – Jordan Neely – divided New Yorkers. 

Neely had 40 prior arrests and allegedly was threatening to kill people on the subway. He was unarmed the time 24-year-old Marine veteran Daniel Penny choked him to death. 

The issue put Mayor Eric Adams at odds with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 

Many New Yorkers were outraged by what they saw as a disproportionate use of force – others said the incident shed light on the rising fear they have when using the city’s public transit system. 

‘It’s the left wing ideology that says let individuals do what they want to do. You know, no one’s gonna get drug treatment or mental health treatment until they’re good and ready, so just let them be,’ said Smith. 

In December, Mayor Eric Adams unveiled a policy allowing police to involuntarily bring unhoused people suffering mental illness to a hospital, generating much controversy from the progressive wing of his party. 

In Washington, the state must first prove that an individual is suffering from a mental illness and poses a threat to themselves or others. 

Meanwhile, the mental health of young people is in crisis – more than a third of those aged 18-25 (33.7 percent) report having a mental illness while only 15 percent of those over 50 years of age say the same. 

Smith, whose new book details how he overcame his own chronic pain and anxiety, said that members of his party needed to be more accountable in general – that society needs to teach ‘resilience’ rather than ‘vulnerability and dependence.’ 

The congressman said that many people are quick to find a diagnosis for their mental struggles but are slow to do the work to get better.  

‘Let’s have an open conversation about this from the standpoint of we want people to get better,’ he said. ‘There’s a lot of this, sort of just talking about it.’

‘I come from a very left-wing jurisdiction in the Seattle King County area, so maybe that’s just peculiar to my neck of the woods, but I don’t think so. I think we need to think about, how do we teach people to be resilient? To find their way through their mental and physical problems, to better know their mind and body so that they can be active, productive adults,’ Smith went on. 

‘Not, well, some of them they see the psychiatrist once a week and other than that, they hang out in bed because lord knows they’ve got something that we can’t possibly deal with.’



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