GOP senator eyes closing loophole to make domestic terrorism a federal crime

GOP senator eyes closing loophole to make domestic terrorism a federal crime
© Greg Nash

Sen. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyThe Hill's Morning Report - Dem debate contenders take aim at Warren Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever Trump-GOP tensions over Syria show signs of easing MORE (R-Ariz.) has drafted a bill that would close a loophole to make domestic terrorism a separate federal crime.

McSally, an Air Force veteran, told Politico that her legislation is necessary due to a quirk in current law that keeps federal prosecutors from charging suspects with domestic terrorism specifically, often leading to other offenses being filed.  

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“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.

“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,” she added.

The development comes after at least 22 people were killed in a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, earlier this month. Authorities suspect the alleged gunman was motivated by hatred of Hispanics and immigrants.

Authorities have also announced they are investigating an earlier mass shooting at California’s Gilroy Garlic Festival, in which a gunman killed three people before turning the gun on himself, as domestic terrorism. A gunman in Dayton, Ohio, killed nine people the same weekend as the El Paso shooting, but authorities have said no political motivation is yet evident in the case.

It also follows a report that the White House pushed back on attempts by the Department of Homeland Security to put greater emphasis on domestic terror. The FBI Agents Association, which represents more than 14,000 current and former agents, called on Congress to make it a federal crime unto itself earlier this month.