It is a terrible fact of modern life, in this era of advancing anti-law enforcement confusion, that when there is horrific violence, one of the first things we ask ourselves is whether the perpetrator will be back on the streets before long due to the state’s insanity. reform laws.
After the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, and again after the destruction of the Trade Center complex in the September 11, 2001 attacks, Congress made sweeping changes to anti-terrorism laws. That’s why I always roll my eyes when Democrats theatrically shout that we need a “domestic terrorism” bill. James’ indictment is a case in point: there is not an act of domestic terrorism that cannot be prosecuted very effectively by the Justice Department, using the laws that are already on the books.
In general, terrorism is the use or threat of force to intimidate a civilian population and/or to blackmail their government into changing policy. That said, the motive is usually very important.
Nonetheless, there are some actions that are such an obvious effort to wage war on a population and its government that this motivation can be reasonably assumed. One such special category of terrorist action is Attacks on mass transit systems. Such attacks carry the potential for thousands of casualties and the crippling of an urban center on which our country depends for its trade and prosperity.
Consequently, Congress has declared such attacks a federal terrorism crime, carrying life imprisonment or even death if death occurs, which fortunately did not happen in the Brooklyn mass shootings. Although the use of force and dangerous weapons are hallmarks of terrorism, the trigger for federal jurisdiction over crimes is usually the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which authorizes Congress to regulate entities that form part of or interfere with interstate commerce. The clause also comes into play when criminals cross state borders with weapons and other tools used to facilitate their violent activities
To establish the terrorism offense that federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have charged against Jamesthe government does not have to prove a certain motive beyond a reasonable doubt.
Mass transit systems like New York’s uniquely large and complicated subways that connect to train and PATH lines are inherently facilities of interstate commerce. James, who appears to have lived in Milwaukee and Philadelphia, is said to have traveled to New York in a U-Haul rented in Philadelphiawho was transporting a Glock pistol he had bought in Ohio – an apparent attempt to erase the serial number was unsuccessful, making the gun easy for the FBI to trace.
The evidence against James seems overwhelming, but he will get his day in court, just like any American accused of a crime. All New Yorkers and all Americans, especially the victims of the heinous killing spree, are fortunate that this day will come before federal court on strong terrorism charges.
Andrew C. McCarthy is a former federal prosecutor.
https://nypost.com/2022/04/14/why-accused-brooklyn-subway-shooter-frank-james-can-be-tried-as-a-terrorist/ Why accused Brooklyn subway shooter Frank James can be charged as a terrorist