The White House is now considering controversial pre-crime measures to study whether mass shootings could be prevented by surveilling mentally ill people for small behavior patterns that might predict violence.
The former chairman of NBC Bob Wright, a longtime associate of President Donald Trump, has informed top officials, which include the President, Vice President, and Ivanka Trump, on a new proposal to build a new research arm called the Health Advanced Research Projects Agency (HARPA) to find unconventional ways to address health problems, similar to what the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) does for the military, based on accounts from several people who have been briefed.
Advisers to Wright put forward a three-page proposal — called SAFEHOME for Stopping Aberrant Fatal Events by Helping Overcome Mental Extremes — which suggests the use of technology i.e. phones and smartwatches to detect when mentally ill people are about to commit violent acts.
The federal government already has plenty of gun control laws as it is, so the Trump administration is looking into other ways of tackling mass shootings.
However, these methods come with their own set of civil liberties problems. When technology is involved, the potential for mass surveillance and even Minority Report style pre–crime investigation is always high. This is the nature of any DC-style intervention to solve these issues.
Instead of trying to legislate new ways of violating civil liberties, the Trump administration should consider more measures that allow law-abiding citizens to arm themselves without having to go through as many government hoops.