WASHINGTON – During National Police Week, today U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Rep. Don Bacon (NE-02) introduced the Back the Blue Act, which would increase the penalties for criminals who intentionally target law enforcement officers and provide new tools for officers to protect themselves.
“Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve families across Texas. Violent criminals who deliberately target those who protect and serve our communities should face swift and tough penalties and the Back the Blue Act sends that clear message. National Police Week helps remind us that we must give the men and women in blue our unparalleled support, and I appreciate Rep. Bacon’s leading by example through introducing this important bill in the House” said Sen. Cornyn.
“Those who protect our communities – whether it’s on the beat, from the bench, behind a hose, or performing CPR – deserve extra protection from violence directed at them, including assault, intent to kill or conspiracy to kill,” said Rep. Bacon. “The anger and violence have risen against these community guardians and this legislation is needed now. I am looking forward to working with Sen. Cornyn to get this long-overdue legislation passed into law.”
Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Braun (R-IN), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Rob Portman (R-OH), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), John Boozman (R-AR), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Rick Scott (R-FL), Steve Daines (R-MT), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Jim Risch (R-ID), and James Lankford (R-OK) cosponsored the legislation. They were joined in the House by Representatives Steve Stivers (OH-15), Bill Johnson (OH-06), Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), Jerry Carl (AL-01), Bob Latta (OH-05), Guy Reschenthaler (PA-14), Mark Amodei (NV-02), Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03), Dan Meuser (PA-09), Lance Gooden (TX-05), Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11), and Rob Wittman (VA-01).
Background on the Back the Blue Act:
Strengthens Laws to Protect Police Officers
- Creates 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.
- Creates 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. However, no prosecution can be commenced absent certification by the Attorney General that prosecution is appropriate.
- Creates 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.
Creates a Specific Aggravating Factor for Federal Death Penalty Prosecutions
- Clarifies that the murder or attempted murder of a law enforcement officer or first responder is a statutory aggravating favor for purposes of the federal death penalty.
Limits Federal Habeas Relief for Murders of Law Enforcement Officers
- Imposes 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. These changes are consistent with the fast-track procedures created in 1996, which are applied to federal death penalty cases.
Expands Self-Defense and Second Amendment Rights for Law Enforcement Officers
- Allows law enforcement officers, subject to limited regulation, to carry firearms into federal facilities and other jurisdictions where such possession is otherwise prohibited.
Opens Up Funding to Strengthen Relationships Between Police and Communities
- Expands opportunities to use grant funding to promote trust and improve relations between law enforcement and the communities they serve.