The worst mass shooting in US history cannot be classified as an act of terrorism unless there was a political motive behind the attack.
Among other questions surfacing about the deadly shooting that claimed the lives of 59 people and injured more than 500 others was why the gunman was not being called a terrorist for the despicable act.
Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano expounded on defining terrorism in the wake of the massacre in Las Vegas Sunday as the lone gunman opened fire at an open air music festival from his hotel room window on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Congress stepped in with legislation to counter outrage by citizens in the past when mass shooting suspects in states without a death penalty did not face the ultimate consequence, Napolitano noted on “Fox & Friends” Tuesday.
“Congress enacted the Anti-Terrorism Act which said that terrorism is two or more acts of violence done in order to affect the policy of the government, that is, for political reasons,” Napolitano said.
Unless the government is able to establish that the deceased Las Vegas gunman, Stephen Paddock, was motivated by a political cause or was seeking to change government policy, the horrendous crime cannot be classified as an act of terror, he explained.
Liberals questioned the absence of labeling Paddock a terrorist and objected to the distinction established in the law which requires political motivation.
The lone wolf. The local shooter. The gunman. Any and everything, but terrorist. Wonder why.
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) October 2, 2017
the minute I read ‘lone wolf’ i knew the race of the shooter.
— venomous claire (@clairevenom) October 2, 2017
Apparently white males who commit mass murder are never terrorists even though they commit domestic terrorism.
— Vivienne Gucwa (@travelinglens) October 2, 2017
Vogue magazine, in a piece titled, “Why Won’t Anyone Call the Las Vegas Shooter a Terrorist?” argued:
According to the dictionary, violence must be politically motivated to truly constitute terrorism. Paddock’s motives are not yet known, which is how some would explain not calling him a terrorist. But whether or not Paddock ever meets the technical definition of terrorist, we know without question that he “created and maintained a state of extreme fear and distress” among the innocent crowd in Vegas. By definition, he terrorized them. But nobody is saying that word, either. When words fail, it seems platitudes prevail.
There were other liberals who were quick to spout the same rhetoric.
EXACTLY! Were not the people seeking shelter running for their lives in FEAR terrorized? That by definition IS a TERRORIST
— ?LuZenMyMnd?? (@ElenaSm10654) October 2, 2017
— Rex Miller (@JahNestaWailer) October 2, 2017
“Had he survived this, had he not killed himself, had the SWAT team captured him, he would have been subject to the death penalty because there is a death penalty in Nevada,” Napolitano continued on Fox News. In states where there is no death penalty, the suspect could be subject to the federal terrorism act and subsequent execution if convicted, “but you’d have to show the political motive.”
Others on Twitter understood the terrorism distinction and echoed Napolitano’s explanation.
No, it’s your standard American mass shooter. Terrorism is defined as unlawful use of violence & intimidation in pursuit of political aims.
— Roz DeKett (@RozDeKett) October 2, 2017
But for this attack, we don’t know the motive yet, so can’t call it terrorism
— The England Man (@TheEnglandMan) October 2, 2017
Glad someone gets it. Whether or not the shooter was a terrorist isn’t based on race; it’s based on motive.
— teleken (@teleken) October 2, 2017
I have no idea. It could be extremism on either side. I won’t speculate, but I think it’s important to label it properly not disguise it.
— Janel Vaughan (@spacytigre) October 2, 2017
But if you can’t identify it, then how can you be so sure it was terrorism?
— Musashi’s Apprentice (@Bantu_Rhino) October 2, 2017
Napolitano also discussed how the suspect “illegally altered” the gun he used in the deadly shooting after he had legally purchased it, describing the difficulty of obtaining a license for the type of automatic weapon.
“Any person familiar with a gun would know how to change it. But the act of changing it is a felony,” he said. “So at the time he bought it, it was legal. At the time he used it, it was criminal.”
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