The school was attacked by a student of Oxford High School, aged 15, on Tuesday. Ethan Crumbley the gunman, had been taken into custody minutes after receiving the 911 call. There were four victims. Six more students were also killed, and one additional teacher was injured.
Crumbley was formally charged Wednesday as an adult. He faces 24 charges including 4 murder charges and 7 assault with intent. These charges are appropriate. But another—”terrorism causing death”—is cause for concern.
What is the definition of TerrorismThis controversial term isn’t without its critics. The term conjures up images of suicide bombings or September 11 attacks. In fact, Michigan’s antiterrorism law was passed just months after the 9/11 attacks. It defines the act as a “violent felony…that the person knows or has reason to know is dangerous to human life…intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or influence or affect the conduct of government or a unit of government through intimidation or coercion.” A similar definition is provided by the FBI.
Is that the case here? Karen McDonald, Oakland County Prosecutor explained Wednesday at a press conference that the 11 victims were covered by murder and attempted murder, but “what about the rest of the kids who ran screaming and hidden under desks?” How about the thousands of children who are unable to eat and sleep and that can’t even imagine going back to school in a normal world? These are all victims, as are their families and communities, so the terrorist charge reflects this.” Later Sheriff Michael Bouchard stated that police were still trying to establish a motive.
Without an explicit intentionThe Michigan statute does not seem to be applicable to an attempt to intimidate civilians or to effect political changes. The Michigan statute does not apply to those who have no motive.
Michigan’s first degree murder and assault with intent murder carry a life sentence. Crumbley can’t be released from prison if convicted of any one of these 11 charges. They don’t have to add another charge in order to punish the shooter.
Unfortunately, there is a widespread trend of anti-terrorist mission creep. Everyday, it seems that anti-terror mission creep is increasing. [Please include a link (or something in the text) backing up the claim that this is happening more frequently]Prosecutors bring in “terrorism” charges, but the actual acts are less similar to what is commonly defined. As anti-terrorism becomes more mainstream, this justifies the expansion of surveillance and spying at the cost of individual liberty at both a local and national level.
The crime should be charged with the same punishment as it is. Even if a crime is particularly appalling or serious, the prosecution should not add unnecessary charges to increase people’s freedoms.