Former FEMA Chief Talks Disaster Response After Mass Shootings

In the wake of last week’s deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, we hear a lot of the same and usual response from Washington lawmakers — thoughts and prayers were issued, standard statements on a need for “change” are given in the most vague terms possible, and ultimately no one in charge offered a real interest in altering federal law to stop mass shootings from happening.

But even though our Congress seems intent on doing nothing to make Americans safer from mass carnage of this sort that doesn’t mean federal authorities aren’t thinking about how the government can best respond to minimize the frequency or damage done by those who would terrorize innocent civilians.

Craig Fugate is the former head of FEMA — the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Fugate served during the Obama Administration. He says the political conversation around mass shootings is too fraught and the conversation in Washington needs to shift toward evidence-based research on what makes killers kill, and how to end that cycle of violence.

The NRA has lobbied and been successful at banning any federal dollars going to research,” says Fugate. “Why is one organization able to muzzle the discussion [in order] to promote gun sales at the expense of doing something about this?”

Fugate says Australia has done some of the best research when it comes to mass shootings after that country passed restrictive gun laws in the mid-1990s.

One of the things they found is we ought to treat shootings like an infectious disease, and every time there’s a shooting it affects more people and we get more shootings,” says Fugate. 

Fugate says Congress could start a discussion about mass violence by focusing on the underlying societal issues that cause individuals to conduct large-scale “lone wolf” attacks.

To hear more from Fugate on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.

Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

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