Domestic terrorism not a specific crime in the U.S.

In the wake of the most recent mass shootings in the United States, one of which took place in the state of Texas, residents everywhere are closely watching what will happen next in the legal proceedings involving the alleged shooters. While the man in Ohio accused of killing multiple people died himself, the man who is said to have opened fire and killed several people in El Paso is alive and may be charged with federal hate crimes.

The choice to charge the defendant with a federal hate crime may surprise some people when they also hear references to him as a domestic terrorist. They may, understandably, wonder why he is not being charged with a crime of domestic terrorism. As explained in a report by Vox, domestic terrorism is not actually a crime under the law in the United States today. 

This fact is actually the source of some controversy at the moment. A few of the people currently running to be nominated as the democratic presidential candidate next year have released proposed plans for increasing the federal government’s ability to investigate alleged acts of domestic terrorism and to prosecute individuals involved in them. Other people put forth the notion that domestic terrorism needs to be its own unique criminal charge.

Opponents of making domestic terrorism a specific crime point to the fact that there are other crimes that provide sufficient opportunities for prosecution teams to pursue cases against the people involved in mass shootings. Crimes such as hate crimes or conspiracy are two examples.