Robert Dear committed acts of domestic terrorism against innocent civilians and law enforcement officials in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Brandishing an AK-47-style weapon, he steadily opened fire on first responders and innocent bystanders from within a Planned Parenthood facility on Centennial Boulevard. Inside, he cowardly shielded himself with hostages, resulting in a five-and-a-half-hour standoff before he finally surrendered to law enforcement officials.

In his attack on America, he murdered two civilians and a Colorado Springs police officer. He additionally wounded five Colorado Springs police officers, four civilians, and left an improvised explosive device in his vehicle, described as a propane tank with wires sticking out of it.

Dear is not merely a gunman, or a shooter, or a loony tune; that man is a domestic terrorist. It is easy to forget that domestic terrorists are still active within the United States while we have been directly at war with foreign terrorists since 2001. Even so, terrorist acts committed by domestic terrorists have killed twice as many Americans as Islamic jihadis have since September 11th.

The law will support the allegation that Dear is a domestic terrorist under 18 U.S.C. § 2331, which defines “domestic terrorism” as activities with the following three characteristics:

  • Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law
  • Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping
  • Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.

18 U.S.C. § 2332b defines the term “federal crime of terrorism” as an offense that:

  • Is calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct
  • Is a violation of one of several listed statutes, including § 930(c) (relating to killing or attempted killing during an attack on a federal facility with a dangerous weapon); and § 1114 (relating to killing or attempted killing of officers and employees of the U.S.).

The premeditated attack by Robert Dear was intended to intimidate and coerce the government and the civilian population. Attacks on Planned Parenthood facilities and staff are not fresh news in the United States of America. Although the mainstream media often brushes these people asides as lone lunatics, unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Dear is a terrorist, not a psycho like James Holmes, the 2012 attacker of a Colorado movie theater. There is a difference. Holmes was clearly acting alone and out of his own delusions, which we may never understand. Robert Dear, conversely, had a message to send at the Planned Parenthood facility.

Both of these tragedies can be simply blamed on old, weak-willed fallacies such as easy access to weapons, untreated mental illness, or negative social encounters. While these factors do play a role in the big picture, the causation is clearly rooted in sensationalism and the near rhetorical innocence given to the terrorist and psychos responsible for these attacks. Experts and critics will assign liability to the trending social hot-buttons of the day (bullies, depression, racism, and so on) and essentially blame society, making no one responsible. Meanwhile, they skip over the fact that either a direct act of domestic terrorism has been committed, or they have played into the sick fantasy of a psycho by momentarily providing them celebrity.