As concerns rise over mass violence motivated by hate, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed on Thursday his Hate Crimes Terrorism Act, which would make New York the first state in the nation to define hate-fueled murder with the intent to cause mass casualties as an act of domestic terrorism — and include stiff penalties similar to those convicted of terrorist acts.
“White supremacists, anti-Semites, anti-LGBTQ white nationalists, these are Americans committing mass hate crimes against other Americans and it should be recognized for what it it: domestic terrorism,” Cuomo said. “It is not just repulsive, immoral, and anti-American, it is illegal and we must confront it by enacting a new law to fit the crime.”
Cuomo also called on the federal government to ban the weapons most often used to perpetrate mass killings across the country, military style assault weapons and high capacity magazines, and to enact universal background checks.
The new statute would define mass casualty as any incident that results in the murder of at least one person and the attempted murder of at least two additional people and when that violence is motivated by hate.
“We must recognize the gross displays of hate-fueled mass killings exhibited throughout our nation for what they are, terrorism,” Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said. “I stand with the Governor and applaud him for introducing legislation to curb domestic terrorism and ensure justice is served. Hate must never win.”
Cuomo’s bill would also create a domestic terrorism task force to study mass shootings, recommend practices to prevent potential mass shootings and shooting incidents and recommend security practices in locations likely to be targeted by mass shooters. This task force would be required to provide its findings to the Governor and the Legislature.
“There is no question that home-grown violence inspired by prejudice or political ideology has become a dominant and lethal form of terrorism in the nation,” Congressman Gregory Meeks said. “Despite this growing trend, the federal government has failed to take proportionate action against the threats posed by white supremacy and hate groups. New York can and should make explicit the threats we recognize to be festering in the dark corners of the internet and nationalist rhetoric, and I’m proud to support Governor Cuomo in redefining domestic terrorism to account for radicalized Americans committing acts of terror.”
Cuomo delivered his speech in Manhattan nearly two weeks after back-to-back massacres in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.