Middle East studies in the News
Debating the Definition of 'Terrorism' After the Las Vegas Shooting [incl. Nader Hashemi]
by Kyle Clark
Colorado's Democratic Senator Michael Bennet called the Las Vegas shooting domestic terrorism on Tuesday, as he called for universal background checks on gun sales.
Colorado is one of the states that has universal background checks, and the shooter in Las Vegas had passed background checks.
But "domestic terrorism," and its definition, have become a point of debate, not unlike the definition of "sanctuary city." Unlike the latter, terrorism is federally defined by the Patriot Act as a crime that seeks to affect a government or retaliate against it.
The Patriot Act defines "domestic terrorism" as activities within the United States that involve acts dangerous to human life that appear to be intended:
(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
In Nevada, "terrorism" is defined as any act that involves the use or attempted use of sabotage, coercion or violence which is intended to:
1. "Act of terrorism" means any act that involves the use or attempted use of sabotage, coercion or violence which is intended to:
By the legal, federal definition, no one knows yet if the Las Vegas shooting can be considered terrorism, even if it's beyond doubt that it has terrorized Americans, because no one knows if this act was politically motivated.
Next spoke with Nader Hashemi, who leads the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver. He offered a unique perspective, and asks that moving forward, people consider how quickly they're willing to apply the word "terrorism" before the public knows a motive, and depending on whether a when a suspect or perpetrator is Middle Eastern or Muslim, or Caucasian.
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