The TAPS Act was a bill that was written last year following mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton. As the Firearms Policy Coalition describes it, the goal of the bill is to develop a national strategy for behavioral threat assessment techniques for state and local authorities. It would also “build databases of information on private people, to collaborate with private entities (including social media companies) and schools to do the same, and on using mental health professionals to ‘assist’ in assessing threats.”
A number of right of center organizations and politicians are on board with this idea, one of whom is The Daily Signal’s Amy Swearer . . .
Consider the following scenarios likely to be encountered by cops and teachers across the country today:
- A concerned parent calls a school administrator because her teenage son told her his friend has an obsession with firearms and journals about rape fantasies involving his classmates.
- Over the past week, local cops have been called to the same office building several times to deal with an enraged former employee who will not stop walking into the reception area, demanding to speak to his former boss. Today, the former employee wore a very visible, but empty, handgun holster on his hip and warned that “they’d regret this.”
- A man accuses his MAGA hat-wearing neighbor of posing a direct threat to his life. When pressed, the man complains that the neighbor has a gun rack on his truck, supports candidates critical of illegal immigration, and his bumper sticker reads “If it’s tourist season, why can’t we shoot them?” He wants law enforcement to take the neighbor’s guns away.
- A student confides in a trusted teacher that she’s really worried about her ex-boyfriend’s behavior since they broke up: He keeps posting on social media that he can’t live without her and that if he can’t have her, no one else can.
We should absolutely want law enforcement officers and educators in these scenarios to have the best idea possible of how to analyze these potential or alleged threats—and know what actions to take.
Perhaps just as importantly, training in behavioral threat assessment would help these individuals know which actions not to take.
When law enforcement officers and school officials are properly able to distinguish true threats from nonthreats, they are less likely to pursue inappropriate interventions that wrongly infringe on the rights of people who aren’t dangerous.