According to the US Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center, 93% percent of attackers in mass incidents recorded in 2018 made ‘threatening or concerning communications’ prior to the attack.
Several attackers including the Charleston church shooter and the Townville school shooter were found to have threatened to commit shootings in the months leading up to their crimes.
The Stoneman Douglas High School shooter also made threats to several classmates and friends about his firearms and the intent to use them to inflict harm.
According to reports, the then-17-year-old posted online saying he was, “going to be a professional school shooter.”
Senator Sandy Senn introduced a bill that would make similar threats a crime. She said current legislation makes it difficult for officers to act based on concerning behavior.
“It also gives our officers time to get the computers of the people and figure out if they are serious or not,” Senn said.
The bill would make it illegal to threaten to damage, injure, kill, or destroy a building by use of a dangerous weapon in a school, church, public park, or public gathering space.
The bill also specifies that those who are charged with the crime must undergo a mental health evaluation as a condition of their bond hearing.
If the mental health evaluation reveals that the person needs mental health counseling, then the court shall require them to undergo treatment.
The penalties range in severity according to the number of offenses and if the threat resulted in damage.
The bill passed in the state senate in April. It is now in the House judiciary committee.
As for people who make threats without serious intent, former South Carolina Attorney General Charlie Condon said he thinks the penalties are fair.
“Most of these people will not end up with long prison sentences if any prison sentences at all particularly when family court cases looking out for the best interest of juveniles,” Condon said.