Chertoff: Spotting Unstable Minds Key to Preventing Mass Shootings

Monday, 23 Jul 2012 06:53 AM

By Patrick Hobin

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Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said that tragedies like the “Batman” movie massacre are more about detecting signs in people than about the weaponry they use, Politico reported.

Chertoff, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said debate around shootings like the one in Aurora, Colorado, which killed 12 people, should not be confined to gun control.

"If you look at what we've heard about the apartment and the sophistication of the devices that were disarmed or disabled there, and you realize that even the kind of ingredients that you can find in your own kitchen can be used to make bombs," Chertoff said, according to Politico. "So the problem here is with the people and not with the tools.”

The Colorado shooting suspect, James Holmes, planned the rampage that killed 12 midnight moviegoers and injured 58 with "calculation and deliberation," police said, receiving deliveries for months which authorities believe armed him for battle and were used to rig his apartment with dozens of bombs.

"We need to understand more about the signs that show somebody is either becoming deranged or becoming a terrorist, because there's a commonality we see again and again, which is a sudden change in behavior, usually some element of becoming more isolated and changing the way you relate to people," Chertoff said.

Chertoff linked the Aurora shooting and the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas, shooting that killed 13 and wounded 30.

"The question there again was how come Major [Nidal Malik] Hasan was not detected earlier before the horrible shootings in Fort Hood,” he said on “Meet the Press.” “It was, in a sense, a failure of imagination. Here's somebody who was getting radicalized, who was communicating with a terrorist over the internet and yet the people looking at that somehow they couldn't get their heads around the assumption that somehow because he was an army officer, he couldn't be turning in a bad direction. So we need to rethink our approach to this."

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