We call for immediate action by the federal government and the states for passage of strong domestic terrorist control acts to combat the epidemic of mass shootings in the United States taking the lives and injuring so many innocent individuals. The recent mass killing of 10 and injuring three Americans in Buffalo, N.Y., is only one of a long list of horrible hate crimes afflicting our country.
A report by the Gun Violence Archive (GVA), an independent research group, with data collection from 7,500 law enforcement, media, government, and commercial sources, should cause all Americans to demand swift action.
The GVA reports show that from 2014 through 2021 there were 3,389 mass shootings in America defined as shootings with four or more shot or killed not including the shooter.
In addition to the very publicized Buffalo shooting; the Parkland School shooting; the Pulse nightclub, Orlando shooting; the Atlanta shooting; the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting; the Black church in Charleston, S.C.; the shooting at the El Paso Walmart in Texas; at the Pittsburgh synagogue; and the Columbine, Colo., shooting; there have been thousands of other mass shootings over the past several years in America causing deaths and serious injuries.
The recent escalating and alarming mass shootings from April 1 through May 15 of this year include 93 deaths and 407 injuries according to GVA reports. We applaud the past actions of the federal government’s enactment of laws from 1968 to 2022 to protect individuals and groups from violence based on race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, American/ Pacific Islanders, and the Emmett Till Antilynching Federal Act of 2022.
On June 21, 2021, the National Security Council published the National Security Countering Domestic Terrorism Plan to focus attention on threats from violent extremists, white nationalism, white supremacists, and antigovernment activists.
We also recognize and support those states that have enacted domestic terrorist control acts such as Idaho (1987).
In the state of Washington, progress is being made with Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s Hate Crimes Advisory Working Group.
Vanessa Waldref, U.S. Attorney for Eastern Washington, has created an outreach program to address and report hate crimes and hate incidents.
However, there are glaring gaps in addressing domestic terrorism in both federal and state law.
We urge the passage of the 2021 proposed United States Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act that would provide and extend efforts of government to prevent, report on, respond to and investigate acts of domestic terrorism by authorizing offices dedicated to combating this threat; requiring these offices to regularly assess this threat; and provide training and resources including funds, to assist state, local and tribal law enforcement in addressing the threats.
The act would charge the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the FBI to implement the law.
We also urge states to enact domestic terrorist control acts.
Unfortunately, one of the greatest threats to public safety and national security comes from within our country.
It is inconceivable that we continue to fail to take action that could save lives and protect our communities from these terrorists.
This is truly an urgent national security issue.
We respond quickly to international terrorist threats, and we should do the same for threats of domestic terrorism.
••• Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations Bonner County Human Rights Task Force Spokane County Human Rights Task Force Boundary County Human Rights Task Force Lance Kissler, Chair of the Spokane Human Rights Commission