Seeking to address the alarming increase in deadly acts of mass violence in the United States in recent years, U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., introduced legislation on Thursday to direct public health officials to conduct research relating to why these acts occur and how to prevent them in the future.
Isakson’s legislation, the Expanding Research on Mass Violence Prevention Act, would give the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ongoing annual authorization for funding under the Public Health Service Act to research what factors are contributing to the recent increase in acts of mass violence and to better identify individuals who may be inclined to commit these heinous crimes. The research would help determine if there are points in which intervention would prevent such incidents.
“Even as overall crime rates have gone down in recent years, we’ve seen an alarming increase in seemingly random mass violence. Americans are right to demand action from their elected leaders, and I’m tired of seeing Congress respond with partisan politics instead of real solutions. This commonsense legislation aims to get to the root of the problem: what is causing this outbreak of mass violence, and what kinds of interventions will actually be effective in preventing these attacks,” said Isakson. “Congress has an opportunity to do the right thing, and it’s time that we took it.”
Isakson’s legislation defines “mass violence” as a “physical assault carried out with implements (which may include knives, clubs, motor vehicles, firearms, or explosives) resulting in injury or death to three or more victims, not including the perpetrator. Such term does not include identifiably gang, drug, or organized crime-related incidents.”
The measure would authorize $75 million annually for five years, from 2020 through 2024. Specifically, Isakson’s legislation would include:
· Pilot projects in states participating in the National Death Reporting System that focus on improving the collection, completeness and sharing of information;
· Research on the nature of mass violence and factors that contribute to mass violence, including psychological and sociological factors;
· Research on methods and instruments for identifying and predicting perpetrators of mass violence;
· Research on methods of intervention with respect to, and prevention of, mass violence;
· Development and disseminations of standardized assessment tools for mass violence risk; and
· Research into “copycat” acts of violence.