Defining Terrorism

In regard to Dianne Feinstein and Salud Carbajal’s “Stop the Shootings” piece, putting aside all criticisms that suggest they cannot be trusted, they ignore or overlook the primary reason why mass shootings and school shootings continue to happen: We refuse to call the perpetrators for what they are, and that is domestic terrorists.

Sure, they don’t perfectly fit the FBI’s definition, but they do fit dictionary definitions. In particular, one definition of terrorism is “acts reaching more than the immediate target victims and also directed at targets consisting of a larger spectrum of society,” such as Gabe Parker’s grand “experiment.” The OLRC (Office of the Law Revision Counsel) U.S. Code itself has a few definitions of domestic terrorism, one of which is “activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State.” By far, one of the most common similarities between a mass shooter and an IS gunman is that their goal is to start a revolution.

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold intended to kickstart a revolution with Columbine, Seung-Hui Cho was indicated to have been inspired by them, Elliot Rodger desired to ignite an incel revolution (ironically, partially fueled by disgust for his fellow incels), Chris Harper-Mercer was inspired by them and their ilk, and Adam Lanza himself may have wanted to initiate a revolution.

Admittedly, referring to this ilk as “domestic terrorists” won’t stop future shootings. After all, mental health also plays a role: Harris and Brenda Spencer both displayed symptoms of psychopathy/sociopathy, Klebold suffered from depression, and Seung-Hui, Rodger, and Jennifer San Marco had a history of mental health issues. However, dropping the current terms and using “domestic terrorist” is the next step we should take if we want to get better.

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