Moulton jointly files bill designating mass shooters as terrorists

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Aug. 6—WASHINGTON, D.C. — Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton, in the wake of a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, is co-sponsoring a new bill that allows mass shootings to be prosecuted as acts of terrorism.

Moulton, D-Salem, filed the "Mass Shooter Prosecution Act" with Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, a Democrat from El Paso, Texas.

Under the bill's provisions, mass shootings would be considered acts of terrorism and law enforcement, in the wake an attack, would be able to uncover the broader network that supported the attack, Moulton said.

Current law allows "law enforcement to conduct a thorough and aggressive prosecution of an entire terrorist network. But until now, mass shootings are not legally deemed as acts of terrorism. This effectively handicaps law enforcement in the wake of an attack, giving those who provided material support to the mass shooter the time to cover their tracks and plan another shooting," said Moulton, in a prepared statement released late last week.

He said by prosecuting mass shooters as terrorists, law enforcement will be better equipped to target and dismantle terrorist networks after an attack.

"The recent shootings in Buffalo, Uvalde, and Highland Park were nothing short of terrorism. The media, the general public, even the President call them that. But from a legal standpoint, we don't currently prosecute mass shootings like the terrorist attacks that they are," Moulton said.

"My bill would not only allow mass shooters to be legally treated like terrorists, but it would also expand our ability to prosecute the networks of online enablers behind these attacks," he said.

Escobar said her community of El Paso "was forever changed by the actions of a domestic terrorist fueled by white supremacy theories."

On May 24, a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at Uvalde's Robb Elementary School. It was the deadliest U.S. school shooting in nearly a decade.

"With this legislation, we're giving law enforcement the tools they need to follow through with investigations into terrorist networks and any individual responsible for attacks against our communities. Proactive policies like these are crucial to saving lives and preventing future shootings," Escobar said.

The bill specifically stipulates that a mass shooting is to be considered an act of terrorism only if it results in at least three fatalities and if the shooter uses a semi-automatic rifle or fully-automatic weapon. Such additional measures will ensure that the statute will not be misused by law enforcement to target traditionally overpoliced communities with impunity, Moulton said.

Both Moulton and Escobar noted mass shooters in Buffalo, Uvalde, and Highland Park all utilized qualified arms under this bill. These terrorist acts took 38 innocent lives.

The Mass Shooter Prosecution Act would allow law enforcement to charge the perpetrators as federal terrorists and further help law enforcement uncover and bring to justice the networks that materially supported them, they said in a joint statement.

Jill Harmacinski may be contacted at jharmacinski@gloucestertimes.com. Follow her on Twitter @EagleTribJill.