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Lankford Pushes to Protect Law Enforcement from Criminals Who Target Them

WASHINGTON, DC –During Police Week, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) joined Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and 27 of their Senate Republican colleagues to introduce the Back the Blue Act, which would increase penalties for criminals who target law enforcement officers and provide new tools for officers to protect themselves:
 
“I remain grateful to the women and men in uniform, including my family and friends, who bravely work in our communities to keep us safe every day and every night,” said Lankford. “The Back the Blue Act makes sure we honor their daily sacrifices by holding criminals accountable who target law enforcement officers and deter others from going down that path. We should never take law enforcement for granted, and our laws that they help enforce should protect them as much as anyone.”
 
“Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to serve families across Texas,” said Cornyn. “Violent criminals who target those who protect our communities should face swift and tough penalties, and the Back the Blue Act sends that clear message.”
 
The legislation is cosponsored by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Rick Scott (R-FL), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Mike Braun (R-IN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), John Boozman (R-AR), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Katie Britt (R-AL), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jim Risch (R-ID), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Steve Daines (R-MT), John Barrasso (R-WY), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), John Kennedy (R-LA), Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Thune (R-SD), John Hoeven (R-ND), Ted Budd (R-NC), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Bill Hagerty (R-TN).
 
Background

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 factor 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.

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