CLARKSBURG — Republican Congressman David McKinley believes something must be done to curtail the amount of violence in the country.

But he isn’t so sure that banning assault rifles and expanding background checks are the answer.

“It’s good politics, but bad policy,” McKinley said Thursday while speaking with The Exponent Telegram editorial board. “It doesn’t have an impact on it ... bad guys are still going to get the weapons.”

McKinley, who represents West Virginia’s 1st congressional district, said more attention needs to be paid to individuals with mental illnesses.

“Mental health is where I think we should begin and we have to spend more resources on that ... it may mean building some additional facilities around this country,” he added.

McKinley also said a national mental health registry should be considered.

“If a person is rejected from one place for mental instability, then everyone ought to know that,” he said.

Although McKinley would like to see more be done to ensure weapons are locked up, he doesn’t think that kind of regulation should become law.

“You can’t legislate common sense,” he added.

Additionally, McKinley said he would not be opposed to armed officers in schools, but only if they have received the proper training.

McKinley also explained that he did not vote in favor of the “fiscal cliff” legislation because it did not include any meaningful spending reductions — only tax increases.

“We can’t keep spending money that we don’t have,” he added.

Furthermore, McKinley believes the debt ceiling only should be raised if expenditures are cut. He says the government needs to come to grips with the $16 trillion deficit.

“There has to be a quid pro quo,” he added. “We’ve got to get this under control.”

According to McKinley, China is getting a 1 percent return from the debt it has purchased from the Unites States.

If that were to rise to 2 percent, almost 15 percent of the federal budget would go toward interest payments, McKinley said.

That would lead to either higher taxes or reductions in programs, he said.

“We’re talking some serious money,” he explained.

McKinley also said he’s in favor of a provision in the debt ceiling legislation — which was approved Thursday by the Democratic-controlled Senate — that withholds pay for House and Senate members if the chamber in which they serve fails to pass a budget by April 15.

But McKinley is not confident a budget will be adopted by that date because no public hearings have been held yet.

“You just can’t pass a budget overnight,” he said.

According to McKinley, the Senate hasn’t adopted a budget in four years.

“When you don’t have a budget, that’s when you get into financial problems,” he said.

McKinley said the lack of a budget has contributed to the nation having $1.3 trillion in excess spending every year.

But McKinley said he would not be willing to balance the budget on the backs of programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

“If you want to close loopholes, that’s one thing ... but we’re not going to cut anyone that’s currently on a program,” he added. “That ain’t going to happen.”

McKinley also said it’s vital that Republicans and Democrats start to have meaningful conversations and work across the aisle.

“We can’t have this lack of civility,” he said. “It’s getting us, as a nation, nowhere.”

Staff writer Adam Tobias can be reached at (304) 626-1404 or atobias@exponent-telegram.com