President Donald Trump called for a wide range of bipartisan solutions to help stop future mass shootings, even proposing social media companies create technology that detects potential shooters.
Trump’s Monday morning speech from the White House responded to the pair of mass shootings within 24 hours of each other in Texas and Ohio over the weekend. He condemned “racism, bigotry and white supremacy” before offering several solutions to try and prevent future “barbaric slaughters” which ranged from mental health legislation to Big Tech detection software that “stop[s] mass murders before they start.” Trump reiterated that past mass shooters like the one who killed 17 students in Parkland, Florida in February 2018 all had “early warning signs” that were ignored both on and offline by family, friends and law enforcement.
Despite leading Donald Trump Jr. and other high-profile Republicans in accusing social media of “political bias,” the president said he will instruct the Justice Department to work with Silicon Valley to create software that “detects” potential mass shooters.
Trump noted the hate-filled, white supremacist “manifesto” the suspected El Paso shooter, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, posted to the far-right 8chan website just prior to the Saturday Walmart shooting.
“We must recognize that the internet has provided a dangerous avenue to radicalize disturbed minds and perform demented acts,” Trump said Monday in the wake of shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio which left 29 people dead. “We must shine light on the dark recesses of the internet and stop mass murders before they start.”
“The perils of the internet and social media cannot be ignored and they will not be ignored,” Trump said.
“I’ve asked the FBI to investigate and disrupt hate crimes and domestic terrorism. Whatever they need,” Trump continued. “First, we must do a better job of identifying and acting on early warning signs. I am directing the Department of Justice to work in partnership with local, state and federal agencies as well as well as social media companies to develop tools that can detect mass shooters before they strike.”
He specifically noted the Parkland high school shooter, Nikolas Cruz, 19, had “many red flags against him and yet nobody took decisive action, nobody did anything, why not?”
Trump went on to call for mental health funding and legislation as well as regulation of violent video games that created “twisted” and “mentally ill monsters” who commit mass shootings.
“We must stop the glorification of violence in our society,” Trump said. “Gruesome and grisly video games that are now commonplace and it’s too easy today for troubled youth to surround themselves with a culture that celebrates violence. We must stop or substantially reduce this…cultural change is hard. We must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals.”
Trump demanded “rapid due process” and “red flag laws” that will help expedite the death penalty and capital punishment proceedings for future mass shooters. He also said that pre-identifying and apprehending potential mass shooters will be possible through a law enforcement tool he’s proposing called “extreme risk protection orders.”
Social media companies including Facebook have massive contractor curator teams who cull through potentially violent or hateful video content. And although Facebook has received significant criticism for allowing past mass shootings to be broadcast live, the social media giant has not publicly acknowledged the creation of any “pre-shooting” detection software like that suggested by Trump Monday.
However, reports have indicated a company run by Trump supporter and “PayPal mafia” investor Peter Thiel, Palantir, has online tracking capabilities similar to a Minority Report-like “pre-cog” or “pre-crime” capability.
Many big tech companies including Amazon have sold facial recognition technology and other artificial intelligence tools to law enforcement.
Trump called on law enforcement and tech companies to work together to “identify disturbed minds who may commit acts of violence.” He said in addition to allowing such people to get treatment, some should be subjected to “involuntary confinement” should they pose too great of a public risk.