U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., have joined 38 of their Republican colleagues in introducing legislation to increase penalties for criminals who target law enforcement officers.
The Back the Blue Act of 2023 was introduced in honor of National Police Week as GOP lawmakers vie for harsher punishments for those who attack police while simultaneously equipping law enforcement with more tools to protect themselves.
“Growing instances of threats and actual violence against law enforcement and the judiciary is unacceptable,” Hyde-Smith said. “The Back the Blue Act would strengthen the penalties for those actions and give officers more tools to protect themselves.”
Among other provisions, the Back the Blue Act would:
- Create a new federal crime for killing, attempting to kill, or conspiring to kill a federal judge, federal law enforcement officer, or federally funded public safety officer. The offender would be subject to the death penalty and a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years if death results; the offender would otherwise face a minimum sentence of 10 years.
- Create a new federal crime for assaulting a federally funded law enforcement officer with escalating penalties, including mandatory minimums, based on the extent of any injury and the use of a dangerous weapon.
- Create a new federal crime for interstate flight from justice to avoid prosecution for killing, attempting to kill, or conspiring to kill a federal judge, federal law enforcement officer, or federally funded public safety officer. The offender would be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for this offense.
- Clarify that the murder or attempted murder of a law enforcement officer or first responder is a statutory aggravating factor for purposes of the federal death penalty.
- Impose time limits and substantive limits on federal courts’ review of challenges to state-court convictions for crimes involving the murder of a public safety officer, when the public safety officer was engaged in the performance of official duties or on account of the performance of official duties.
- Allow law enforcement officers, subject to limited regulation, to carry firearms into federal facilities and other jurisdictions where such possession is otherwise prohibited.
“Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day,” Wicker said. “Enacting this legislation would help protect our officers and send a clear message to those who wish them harm.”
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