ALBNAY – New York State’s Governor wants to create a new crime of domestic terrorism for mass shootings or other large-scale violent acts motivated by bias.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says his proposal to lawmakers would cover acts like the recent mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, where authorities say the shooter targeted Mexicans.
New York already has specific laws on terrorism, murder and hate crimes, but Cuomo says his proposal is needed because of a disturbing rise in homegrown violent extremism.
Cuomo cited the El Paso shooting, as well as mass shootings in recent years at synagogues, a gay nightclub in Orlando and an African-American church in South Carolina as evidence that violent extremists in the U.S. are a growing threat.
The proposed Hate Crimes Domestic Terrorism Act would apply to mass-casualty incidents resulting in death and injury that targeted victims based on their race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, gender identity or expression, religion, age, disability or sexual orientation.
Those found guilty of the crime would be subject to sentences of life in prison without parole — the same penalty prescribed in the state’s existing anti-terror law.
That law was written at a time when terrorism was considered primarily an external threat, Cuomo said.
“We have an enemy within, an American cancer, where one cell in the body politic attacks the other cells in the body,” Cuomo said in a speech last week to members of the New York City Bar Association.
“It spreads in the hidden corners of the internet, and from the highest positions in the land, and it infects sick and hate-filled hearts. This new violent epidemic is hate-fueled American-on-American terrorism.”
Top lawmakers have signed on to Cuomo’s idea. The Legislature isn’t scheduled to return to Albany until January.