New DHS plan to fight increased right-wing violence ignores guns

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A new plan by Trump's Department of Homeland Security to finally address right-wing violence omitted a rather key part.

America has seen a significant rise in hate crimes and right-wing mass shootings under Donald Trump, who has actively downplayed the threat of growing white supremacy while in office. Now, a new plan by his Department of Homeland Security to finally take the problem seriously omits a rather key part of the problem: access to guns.

On Friday, Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan announced a new "Strategy for Combating Terrorism and Targeted Violence" that acknowledges that Americans "face a growing threat from domestic actors inspired by violent extremist ideologies, as well as attacks from those are not ideologically driven" and that "[r]acially- and ethnically-motivated violent extremism, in particular, violent white supremacism, is one of the most prevalent and abhorrent of these anti-American ideologies. There is no moral ambiguity on this issue."

It documents several of these right-wing attackers who have used guns to carry out their attacks on other Americans, specifically noting the August 2019 El Paso Walmart mass shooting, the October 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, and the April 2019 Poway, California, synagogue attack.

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DHS then notes the common thread for many of these attacks: violent individuals with a history of making threats using firearms.

Prevention is not prediction. However, evidence-based research on individuals who carry out acts of targeted violence demonstrates that regardless of whether the attacks were acts of workplace violence, domestic violence, school-based violence, or terrorism, similar themes are evident among the perpetrators. A 2018 U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) review of mass attacks in public spaces found: Most of the attackers utilized firearms, and half departed the site on their own or committed suicide.

The report proposes an array of steps to address the problem, including "developing preventative frameworks," ensuring "broad awareness of the threat of terrorism and targeting violence" and building "resilience to malign information operations initiated by foreign states and foreign non-state actors."

But it does not propose any steps to keep guns out of the hands of the people who are most likely to carry out these right-wing mass shootings.

This stands in sharp contrast to the report's section on foreign military terrorists. There, weapons seem to be a concern for DHS: "A third change relates to the weaponry attackers can potentially employ. Militant groups across the globe increasingly use technologies that were either crude or unavailable to consumers at the time of the 9/11 attacks." The examples of this include "unmanned aircraft systems," "artificial intelligence, biotechnology, 3D printing, and cryptocurrencies."

Weeks after Trump demanded "meaningful background checks" for gun purchases, he has yet to give any indication of what gun legislation he actually supports or would sign. He has inexplicably blamed his paralysis on former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX).

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.