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Senators Begin Hearings on Mass Violence

September 16th, 2019 by Mike Vasilinda

For the first time ever, a Florida Senate committee is delving into the causes of mass violence.

The hearing began with testimony from FSU researchers.

“And the years with the most mass shootings are 1980, 1992, 1993, and 2016,” said Dr. Jillian Turanovic with the FSU College of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

While mass violence is not increasing dramatically, despite public opinion to the contrary, hate crimes are exploding.

“The internet can act as an echo chamber where they just hear louder and hateful versions of their own hateful viewpoints,” said Dr. Brendon Lantz.

And the Department of Law Enforcement said horrific crimes are in many cases preventable.

“More than half communicated their intentions to harm a specific target to at least one third part and ofter times these revelations included their specific plans,” said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen.

Moms Demand Action delivered 807 letters to the committee chair Tom Lee.

Most ask for better background checks.

“I think its the most doable, I think its the most effective,” said Kate Kile with MDA. “I think you can look to the states that have these laws and you can look at the reduction in homicides and reductions in aggregated assaults.”

No votes were taken, indeed no bills were before the committee.

Rather, the hearing was the beginning of a conversation about what might be done to stop random mass violence.

“We should get to the bottom of why this individual was not thinking the right way at the time, and make sure that when folks are having these episodes of not thinking right, not seeing things clearly, that we are able to de-escalate them as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Jay Reeve with the Apalachee Center, a mental health and substance abuse center in Tallahassee.

And Lee said the job now is to sort out what ideas can muster enough votes to become law.

Senators made clear that legislation to ban assault rifles, which account for about 25 percent of mass murders, is dead on arrival this year.

A petition is currently being circulated to put the ban before voters in 2020.

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