Michigan terrorism law could influence how other states respond to domestic terrorism—Ali

December 16, 2021

As Michigan slowly comes to terms with the horrific attack at Oxford High School, debates across the country sprung up about more comprehensive methods to tackle mass shootings and gun-based violence.

Javed Ali, an associate professor of practice at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, cited Michigan’s 2002 anti-terrorism law as a possible way forward for the federal government to take cues from in a recent op ed. “One of the enduring gaps in the federal counterterrorism tool kit is the lack of a clearly established crime of domestic terrorism to match the existing definition of domestic terrorism set forth in US code,” he noted.

While the current federal definition of domestic terrorism defines it as “acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State” and “to intimidate or coerce a civilian population”, Michigan’s 2002 statute builds on the federal framework to include violent felonies under state law that the “perpetrator knows or has reason to know is a danger to human life”, and “is intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.” It is this likely that this basis got the Oakland County Prosecutor to bring a terrorism charge for the Oxford High School shooting, even though there was no apparent ideological motivation or foreign terrorism connection, says Ali.

“Given the privacy and civil liberties concerns over creating a federal domestic terrorism statute, laws like those that exist in Michigan can provide state and local prosecutors and law enforcement more flexibility to bring serious charges against violent felons for the crimes they commit and the impact they have on the communities that are affected by them,” Ali concluded.

Read “State law used to charge Oxford shooter with terrorism could be a model” in The Detroit News