The organization, responding to recent mass shootings, called on Congress to pass a law making domestic terrorism a federal crime. A bill was introduced in the Senate this week.
After two deadly mass shootings this month, momentum is growing to give federal law enforcement more tools to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic terrorism. The FBI Agents Association is a leading voice in the effort.
Last week, in the wake of the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, FBIAA called on Congress to enact a law defining domestic terrorism as a federal crime.
“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,” said FBIAA President Brian O’Hare in a statement. Making domestic terrorism a federal crime “would ensure that FBI agents and prosecutors have the best tools to fight domestic terrorism.”
The El Paso shooting in particular is seen as a case of domestic terrorism after the suspect told police that his attack was motivated by racism. Another recent shooting, in Gilroy, California, is also being investigated as a potential act of domestic terrorism.
FBIAA’s call has gained support in Congress. This week, Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) announced that she was introducing legislation in the Senate. Her draft bill [PDF] defines domestic terrorism as an act “with the intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or influence, affect, or retaliate against the policy or conduct of a government” in which violence is committed or threatened. It lists killing, kidnapping, assault, and other crimes and specifies corresponding sentences.
“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,” she said, according to The Hill. “That stops with my bill.”