Arizona Senator Martha McSally introduced a bill this week to make domestic terrorism a federal crime. The bill seeks to close legal loopholes in the aftermath of several mass shootings that occurred over the course of a few weeks in California, Ohio, and Texas.
The FBI claims domestic terrorism is a “persistent” threat in the U.S. and defines it as attacks “Perpetrated by individuals and/or groups inspired by or associated with primarily U.S.-based movements that espouse extremist ideologies of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.”
The issue, however, is that perpetrators of domestic terrorism aren’t charged as terrorists because, as McSally told CBS, “the absence of a federal domestic terrorism crime makes it more difficult to track acts of domestic terror and reduces uniformity in charging and sentencing.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) appeared confused by the inconsistency earlier this year, while questioning the FBI on why white supremacists aren’t charged as terrorists.
FBI Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Michael McGarrity’s explained that no ‘domestic terrorism’ charge exists. He said that in most cases, if perpetrators aren’t tied to a foreign terrorist group, cases are charged as civil disputes, mostly hate crimes.
McSally, a veteran, fought terrorism overseas. She was the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat.
In a statement, the Arizona Republican said, “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.”
“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. “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. The bill I am introducing will give federal law enforcement the tools they have asked for so that they can punish criminals to the fullest extent of the law.”