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House Votes on Domestic Terrorism Bill After Buffalo Grocery Store Massacre

House Votes on Domestic Terrorism Bill After Buffalo Grocery Store Massacre

The House moved toward swift passage Wednesday of legislation that would devote more federal resources to preventing domestic terrorism in response to the racist mass shooting in Buffalo, New York.

The vote comes in the wake of the horrific and racially motivated mass shooting over the weekend at a supermarket in a predominately Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, that killed 10 people and wounded three others. The Justice Department is investigating the shooting as a hate crime and “an act of racially-motivated violent extremism.”

 

The measure seeks to prevent another attack like the one that took place in Buffalo on Saturday when an 18-year-old white man drove three hours specifically to carry out a racist, Livestreamed shooting rampage in a crowded supermarket where he had previously done surveillance. The shooter, who called himself a white supremacist and antisemitic in his own so-called “manifesto,” had been investigated for threats less than a year before the massacre at Tops Family Market but was still able to obtain the AR-15 he used.

 

The legislative effort isn’t new, as the House passed a similar measure in 2020 only to have it languish in the then-Republican-controlled Senate. While still lacking support in the Senate to move ahead with the gun-control legislation that they say is necessary to stop mass shootings, Democrats are instead pushing for a broader federal focus on domestic terrorism.

“We in Congress can’t stop the likes of (Fox News host) Tucker Carlson from spewing hateful, dangerous replacement theory ideology across the airwaves. Congress hasn’t been able to ban the sale of assault weapons. The Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act is what Congress can do this week to try to prevent future Buffalo shootings,” said Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), who first introduced the measure in 2017.

The Democratic sponsors of the bill say it will fill the gaps in intelligence-sharing among the Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI so that they can better track and respond to the growing threat of white extremist terrorism. Under current law, the three federal agencies already work to investigate, prevent and prosecute acts of domestic terrorism. But the bill would require each agency to open offices specifically dedicated to those tasks and create an interagency task force to combat the infiltration of white supremacy in the military.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill would cost about $105 million over five years, with most of the money going toward hiring staff.

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