TUCSON — U.S. Senator Martha McSally, R-Ariz., released Wednesday a discussion draft of legislation to add specific punishments for acts of domestic terrorism and provide federal law enforcement with new charging options.
McSally intends to introduce the legislation when the Senate returns in September.
Under current law, domestic terrorism, while defined in the criminal code, is not itself a distinct federal crime with specific punishments. Because of this gap, federal law enforcement agencies frequently open domestic terrorism investigations but end up charging domestic terror suspects with other offenses.
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. On the state level, Arizona is leading the nation by example as it currently has a terrorism statue in state law.
McSally’s discussion draft:
• 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
“As someone who fought terrorism overseas, I understand the importance of calling out terrorism wherever it is. Domestic terrorism is in our back yard, and we need to call it and treat it under the law the same as other forms of terrorism,” McSally said.
“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.”