Attorney General Calls for Counseling, Intervention to Prevent Mass Shootings

Tom Brenner/File Photo/Reuters

Last updated 10/23/2019 at 1:00 p.m. ET.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday announced an effort to prevent mass shootings through court-ordered counseling and supervision of potentially violent individuals.

The effort, announced in a memo to federal prosecutors and law enforcement officials, follows dozens of deadly mass shootings in the United States this year, including a massacre of 22 people at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and another just one day later in Dayton, Ohio, in which nine people were killed.

The FBI has at times struggled to identify home-grown threats, which often develop with little warning.

Lawmakers are considering whether new laws are needed to help investigate those who are motivated by white supremacy, anti-Semitism and other extreme ideologies that are protected by the U.S. Constitution’s free-speech safeguards.

Others, such as the gunman who killed 59 people in Las Vegas in October 2017, do not appear to have any ideological affiliation.

Barr said a training conference at FBI headquarters in December will present “proven models for engaging extremely challenging individuals” and consider new ideas to face such threats.

Among those, he said, are enlisting psychologists and community groups.

In one successful case, Barr said, the FBI worked with parents and social-service workers to get court-ordered supervision and mental-health treatment for a young person who was the subject of a threat investigation.

Barr’s announcement came on the same day that a handful of Republican senators led by Texas Republican John Cornyn unveiled proposed legislation also aimed at preventing mass shootings.

The bill would promote collaboration with online platforms to share information about domestic terrorism, hate crimes and mass violence.

It would also create task forces to investigate unlicensed fire arms dealers, expand mental health treatment and expedite the death penalty for international or domestic terrorists who commit mass murder.

The FBI has already taken some early steps toward potentially utilizing social media to detect and prevent mass shootings and other acts of domestic terrorism.

Earlier this year, the FBI requested bids for a contractor to help detect national security threats by trawling through social media sites.

The Justice Department’s internal watchdog is currently reviewing the agency’s efforts to identify homegrown terrorism threats.

The FBI has come under criticism for how it investigates possible shooters.

In the wake of the February 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, the FBI’s No. 2 official, David Bowdich, told Congress the bureau should have done more after it received warnings about the gunman.

In a report released in June, Inspector General Michael Horowitz said the FBI had been aware of a threat from an unnamed home-grown extremist but “did not adequately mitigate the threat.”

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Andy Sullivan; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Lisa Shumaker)

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General Confusion
Member

So seven people think that the Dickie Amendment is beneficial? Why? That makes NO sense!

General Confusion
Member

“I found strength in going to church and discovered a power grater than myself, who would help restore me to sanity…” Brad

Good for you, now apply that to a depressive or psychotic individual and see how far they get. The world is bigger than just you and your problems, and other solutions DO cost money.

Paul
Member

Barr, this is a good start, even for you. But, for all those who in the past exhibited mental or emotional conditions, there are those who are said of them: “I never, ever, saw any sign.” For those: Did you look? Did you care?

General Confusion
Member

“These are the people who need help.” Mary MacDonald I see that you are confused by Catch-22s, so let me break this one down a little bit. It’s really simple. If you have some medical or psychological condition that needs treatment but you can’t afford the costs of treatment or you can’t even work to earn enough to pay for coverage, how do you get better so that you are not a danger to society? By pulling up your bootstraps or WILLING yourself to get better? Because there aren’t too many other options left, right? What is left of the… Read more »

Dave Hardesty
Member

They don’t seem to have much trouble tracking down and busting those involved with Child Pornography and teenage sexting so one wonders what the problem is with these mass shooters?

Mary MacDonald
Member

See something, say something! Still good advice. We all have problems but with some they really become malignant thoughts. These are the people who need help.

General Confusion
Member

I am confused, A.G. Barr.

Does this mean that you are going to campaign to have the Dickie Amendment overturned? Because without it we would already better understand why these mass shootings occur. You realize that, right?

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