Updated: January 16, 2021 10:13 PM
Created: January 16, 2021 08:43 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — State lawmakers prefiled a bill ahead of the legislative session that seeks to define more language related to domestic terrorism.
This legislation comes after pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol more than a week ago.
"Everybody has a first amendment right to peacefully gather and protest, but it's once you cross that threshold and you bring violence into it that the tables turn and that turns into a crime,” said. Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil (D-District 15).
If House Bill 70 is approved, it would add more penalties for politically motivated violence. If someone is charged, they could face a third degree felony. That’s on top of other crimes someone might commit like attacking people or buildings.
"This is just another tool in a prosecutors’ toolbox that they can add to specific charges if they're warranted,” the representative said.
A similar bill was introduced during the 2020 legislative session after the state hosted a domestic terrorism summit in response to a mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart. However, lawmakers ran out of time.
Rep. Hochman-Vigil said the bill also plans to address online threats.
"So if you put something on social media saying, ‘Oh I'm really upset about this and I think these people should be hurt, or I'm going to go protest at the Capitol in Santa Fe and I'm going to beat someone up’ – that I don't think rises to that standard. It has to be very specific: 'Rep. Hochmam-Vigil, I'm going to go to the Capitol, I'm going to kidnap you, and I'm going to torture you until you die.’ That is a specific threat that I think could meet the standard of putting me in fear of great bodily harm,” she said.
If the bill passes and someone is convicted, they could face three years behind bars.
The bill is also being sponsored by Republican Rep. Bill Rehm (R-District 31).
The 60-day legislative session begins Tuesday.
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