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domestic terrorism

GOP Sen. Martha McSally is introducing a bill to make domestic terrorism a distinct federal crime

Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) is hoping to close a loophole that prevents federal authorities from specifically punishing domestic terrorism, in the wake of recent mass shootings in El Paso and Gilroy, which are being treated by investigators as domestic terrorism cases.

McSally says such violence needs to be called and treated under the law in the same way as "other forms of terrorism." The senator, an Air Force veteran, said that "as someone who fought terrorism overseas, I understand the importance of calling out terrorism wherever it is."

The bill would criminalize politically motivated violence, recognize victims of terrorism, and allow federal authorities to charge suspects with acts of domestic violence. Politico reports it's likely to garner "significant co-sponsors," though USA Today adds it could also face opposition from civil liberties groups.

While FBI Director Christopher Wray has said that the agency is "aggressively" fighting domestic terrorism, McSally's bill is an example of what many lawmakers argue could help fight and prevent domestic terror. But Paul Charlton, a defense attorney and former U.S. attorney for Arizona, said that if lawmakers really want to enact change they should focus less on semantics — he said the lack of domestic terrorism law does not hinder the ability to prosecute such cases — and more on "sentencing enhancements for this kind of offense."