Aug 6, 2019

FBI agents call on Congress to make domestic terrorism a federal crime

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The FBI Agents Association released a statement on Tuesday urging Congress to make domestic terrorism a federal crime, arguing that it would that would ensure that FBI agents and prosecutors have the "best tools" to fight it.

Driving the news: Two mass shootings perpetrated over the weekend by American citizens left 31 dead, bringing the issue of domestic terrorism back into the national conversation. The U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas says he will be treating the shooting at an El Paso Walmart as a domestic terrorism case. However, because there is currently no clear federal domestic terrorism statute, the Justice Department cannot prosecute the case under the same terrorism laws applied to foreign nationals.

What they're saying:

"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.”

But, but, but: Congress is currently on August recess, stalling their ability to act immediately on legislation. Democrats and some Republicans have been calling on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to cancel recess to address the mass shootings through measures like background checks.

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GOP Rep. Steve Scalise calls for domestic terrorism to be a federal crime

House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday that he supports making domestic terrorism a federal crime after mass shooters in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, killed 31 people last weekend.

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Federal authorities open domestic terrorism investigation into Gilroy shooting

A makeshift memorial outside the site of the Gilroy Garlic Festival on July 29, 2019. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Federal authorities said on Tuesday that they have launched a domestic terrorism investigation into the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting, which killed two children ages 6 and 13 and a man in his 20s, the Los Angeles Times reports.

How we got here: A man identified as the suspect posted a reference to a racist manifesto on social media days before the shooting. The shooter had a "target list" that featured unspecified religious groups, U.S. buildings and members of both political parties, the FBI said Tuesday.

Go deeperArrowAug 6, 2019

Kamala Harris outlines plan to tackle domestic terrorism

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris speaks at a gun safety forum at Iowa Events Center on Aug. 10. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) released a plan Wednesday to tackle domestic terrorism by limiting gun access, following mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton this month.

Why it matters: Domestic terrorism is a growing threat in the U.S. FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Congress in July that the bureau had made about 100 domestic terrorism arrests in the first 3 quarters of this fiscal year. Harris is the latest 2020 candidate to address this issue.

Go deeperArrowAug 15, 2019