COLUMBIA — Gov. Nikki Haley said today that the country needs to have a conversation about mental health following the Sandy Hook shooting, adding that gun control is not the answer.

Haley Thursday rolled out her proposed $6.3 billion general fund budget that included an additional $11.3 million for the S.C. Department of Mental Health. That’s slightly less than the $16.3 million increase Haley floated in her executive budget last year.

Asked whether she has a position on the availability of assault weapons and large ammunition magazines, Haley said that when an incident like the Connecticut shooting comes up, people want to immediately react.

“What we can’t do is be emotional, what we can do is be smart,” she said. “And part of that is stepping back and saying, ‘What is the real issue?’ Connecticut has one of the strongest gun control measures in the country. But look at their mental health system. That’s what they need to be looking at. That’s what we all need to be talking about is the mental health side of things, not necessarily...guns. Anybody can get a gun, and when bad people get guns, you know, they’re going to do what they want to do. No amount of gun control can stop someone from getting a gun when they want to get it.”

Haley declined to weigh in on a newly filed state House bill that would allow South Carolina teachers to carry guns in schools. Haley said she wants to refrain from commenting on the measure and other prefiled bills until they get to the committee level.

Read more in upcoming editions of The Post and Courier.

Reach Stephen Largen at 864-641-8172 and follow him on Twitter @stephenlargen.