FL law enforcement head rejects that mass shooters have mental illness

Pulse Nightclub
ORLANDO, FLORIDA - Edwin Rodriguez writes the names of the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting at the front of the nightclub building on June 21, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

Saying there’s no single demographic or social profile of what constitutes a mass shooter, the head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Monday it will take a shift in strategy to contend with high profile mass shootings that have plagued Florida and the nation.

FDLE head Rick Swearingen told a Florida Senate committee that he believes the only way to get ahead of mass shootings is to utilize what he calls “behavioral threat assessment management.”

That means identifying a potential attacker, assessing the risk of violence he or she might be capable of, and managing that risk.

Swearingen was one of several experts testifying before the Senate Committee on the issue of mass attacks and targeted violence. The Infrastructure and Security Committee is chaired by Republican Tom Lee from Hillsborough County.

Lee was tasked last month by Senate President Bill Galvano to lead the Senate into researching what is behind the rash of mass shootings taking place across the country. Galvano’s move followed the deaths of more than 30 people on consecutive days in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio last month.

Swearingen rejected the idea that most mass shooters have mental illness, but he also refused to play into the hands of gun control advocates.

According to his statistics, Swearingen said the majority of mass shootings come from people possessing handguns — not assault weapons. He said “multiple stressors” lead individuals to commit horrific forms of violence.

“They don’t snap. They decide. They plan their attacks, days, months sometimes year in advance…The motive and ideology of the attacker does not matter,” Swearingen said.

Two professors from the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University kicked off the three-hour hearing.

Dr. Jillian Turanovic said it’s actually difficult to define how many mass shootings there have been in America in the past decades, because some studies have identified three or more people involved, while others identify four or more.

Dr. Brendan Lantz, from FSU, said while there have always been mass shootings, the internet has allowed those who harbor hatred towards other social groups to find common cause with more accessibility.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here