Bill Drafted to Make Domestic Terrorism a Federal Crime

Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) has released a discussion draft of legislation to make domestic terrorism a unique federal crime. Under current law, domestic terrorism is not a distinct federal crime with specific punishments. It is simply defined as an aggregating factor. The legislation would criminalize the act and give federal law enforcement greater authority in pursuing suspects.

According to McSally’s office, the absence of a unique federal statue on domestic terrorism makes it more difficult to track and uniformly sentence the crime.

McSally’s draft legislation,

  • “Gives federal law enforcement authorities more by allowing them to charge suspects with acts of domestic terror.
  • Criminalizes violent and destructive acts with political motives.
  • Focuses resources to combat domestic terrorism.
  • Ensures that the victims of terrorism are properly recognized.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigations Agents Association (FBIAA) has long supported this measure.

The Association President Brian O’Hare said in a statement, “Domestic terrorism is a threat to the American people and our democracy. Acts of violence intended to intimidate civilian populations or to influence or affect government policy should be prosecuted as domestic terrorism regardless of the ideology behind them. FBIAA continues to urge Congress to make domestic terrorism a federal crime. This would ensure that FBI Agents and prosecutors have the best tools to fight domestic terrorism.”

Similar legislation has previously been introduced by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) earlier this year. McSally introduced her measure following several mass shootings which the FBI has noted will be investigated as acts of domestic terrorism.

“As someone who fought terrorism overseas, I understand the importance of calling out terrorism wherever it is. Domestic terrorism is in our backyard and we need to call it and treat it under the law the same as other forms of terrorism,” said McSally in her statement. “For too long we have allowed those who commit heinous acts of domestic terrorism to be charged with related crimes that don’t portray the full scope of their hateful actions. That stops with my bill.”

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