The Charleston, S.C., shootings have prompted six Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to push for hearings on domestic terrorism.
Spearheaded by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and the top Democrat on the committee, Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the senators point to statements by alleged shooter Dylann Roof before the massacre at the black church.
"If this same act had been perpetrated by someone claiming a desire to harm Americans in the service of Islamist principles, it would immediately be labeled an act of terror," the senators write. "A violent act motivated by a racist desire to intimidate a civilian population falls squarely within the definition of domestic terrorism."
The letter is addressed to Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa.
"We urge you to hold hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee on the threat posed by domestic terrorism and homegrown hate groups. In the past, mass violence in our country has been explained away as an act of insanity to be treated as a mental health issue. What we saw in South Carolina is about hate, and it is about evil," the Democrats write. Blumenthal and Leahy are joined in the request by Sens. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Dianne Feinstein of California, Chris Coons of Delaware and Al Franken of Minnesota.
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