America's law enforcement and research communities have failed to develop the kind of research strategy to understand and prevent rampages like today's mass murders at Connecticut a Connecticut elementary school, a University of Arizona doctor said.
Dr. John Harris said mass killings often prompt arguments over such issues as mental health care, gun control or whether violence in television provokes real-life killings. Those frequently one-issue arguments, however, often accomplish little in the way of learning how to improve public safety.
"Let's get off of this as a gun control issue, because that gets everybody riled up and we're all yelling at each other," Harris said.
Harris is a University of Arizona faculty affiliate. He said he was a friend of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and the 2011 shooting that wounded her and killed several others prompted him to study the issue of rampage violence. His wife, Robin Harris, is an epidemiologist and in June of this year the couple published a four-page article on the subject in the American Journal of Public Health.
The Harrises concluded in their article that a better way to comprehend mass violence would be to create a multi-disciplinary research team similar to the National Transportation Safety Board to research rampages and possibly determine methods to help authorities prevent such incidents.
"To me, that answer looks like what we've done around airline safety," Harris said.