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house Bill H.R. 115

Should Murdering or Trying to Kill First Responders be a Factor in Federal Death Penalty Decisions?

Argument in favor

Murdering or attempting to murder police officers and other first responders who go in harm’s way to protect the public should be an aggravating factor when the death penalty is considered as a sentence.

John.Nutt's Opinion
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05/15/2017
They risk their life's ever day to save us. Anything that someone tries to do that harms them or could. That person should have a way more severe punishment. This goes for our military, police, doctors, and firefighters.
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Gina's Opinion
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05/15/2017
My husband is a paramedic and many of our friends and family are in law enforcement and emergency services. These men and women serve and place their lives on the line every single day. They don't think of the risk. To attempt or succeed in taking the life of someone who is 1 doing their job and 2 trying to help that should be taken into account in sentencing.
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Michelle's Opinion
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05/18/2017
It's a personal fear as my son is a Houston Firefighter and daughter-in-law a Paramedic. They chose these careers because it was their passion to help others. The pay won't make them rich, but they love what they do. They shouldn't have to work in fear!
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Argument opposed

The law shouldn’t make something that’s already a crime worse because of the status or occupation of the victim, especially when considering a sentence as controversial as the death penalty.

SuperMedicWitch's Opinion
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05/18/2017
I've been a paramedic for 20 years. I know that in my job, your risk of being injured or killed, sometimes intentionally, is increased. That is a risk I choose to take. The death penalty is barbaric and has no place in civilized society. The death penalty is not justice, it is revenge.
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Joan's Opinion
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05/15/2017
A murder is a murder.....the occupation of the victim should not make a difference.
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Loraki's Opinion
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05/10/2017
WELL, 8 HOURS AGO THE HOUSE PASSED THIS BILL 271-143. LET'S SEE IF WE CAN GET THE SENATE TO KILL IT! Government is saying, in essence, that the lives of those in authority are more important and valuable than the lives of ordinary citizens! Our "public servants" have morphed into a privileged ruling class! As Countable member Dylan T. said: "To vote yes is to imply that all lives are in fact NOT equal. As heinous as it is to intentionally end the life of a sworn officer of the law, this is exactly what they are trained for. How is killing someone without any hostility training, self defense, weapons handling and deescalation training less heinous?" UPDATED: It looks like the House will be voting on this bill Thursday, May 18th.! So, are we going to allow the government to set up special classes of American citizens, whose killing or attempted killing will call for the death penalty?! But hey, if someone kills or attempts to kill YOU, an ordinary citizen, well, you just might not be special enough. Whatever happened to "ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL...?" Don't get me wrong, I'm a big supporter of LEOs and other first responders! But do we REALLY want to set this kind of precedent of special classes of citizens???! Think of the implications and possible ramifications before you vote YEA! Yes, it's true that LEOs are getting targeted just because of their occupation. But it's also true that just plain ORDINARY AMERICAN CITIZENS ARE BEING TARGETED BY MUSLIM TERRORISTS AND ILLEGAL ALIENS! H.R. 115: Thin Blue Line Act - To amend title 18, United States Code, to provide additional aggravating factors for the imposition of the death penalty based on the status of the victim. Summary: This bill amends the federal criminal code to expand the list of statutory aggravating factors in death penalty determinations to also include the killing or attempted killing of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or other first responder. Sponsor: Vern Buchanan [FL-16-R] Text of bill: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-115hr115ih/pdf/BILLS-115hr115ih.pdf
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What is House Bill H.R. 115?

This bill would make the murder or attempted murder of a police officer, firefighter, or other first responder an “aggravating” factor in death penalty determinations. It would come into play in cases involving federal jurisdiction (an interstate homicide, or it occurred on federal land, etc.) if the first responder was carrying out their duties when the murder or attempted murder was carried out, because of the past performance of their work, or their status as public officials.

Impact

The first responders who are victims of murder or attempted murder and their families; those convicted of the murder or attempted murder of an on-duty first responder; and judges considering the death penalty for a relevant convict.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 115

$0.00
The CBO estimates that this bill would have no significant effect on the federal budget.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) introduced this bill to toughen penalties against cop-killers in response to a wave of ambush-style attacks on law enforcement officers in 2016:

“We owe a great debt to police officers and first responders across the country. Attacks against law enforcement officers must end. The strong committee vote today sends a clear message to those who target police — you will be held accountable.”

This legislation passed the House Judiciary Committee on a 19-12 vote and has the support of 21 cosponsors, all of whom are Republicans.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Red Carlisle via Flickr / Creative Commons)

AKA

Thin Blue Line Act

Official Title

To amend title 18, United States Code, to provide additional aggravating factors for the imposition of the death penalty based on the status of the victim.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
  • The house Passed May 18th, 2017
    Roll Call Vote 271 Yea / 143 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
    IntroducedJanuary 3rd, 2017

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    My husband is a paramedic and many of our friends and family are in law enforcement and emergency services. These men and women serve and place their lives on the line every single day. They don't think of the risk. To attempt or succeed in taking the life of someone who is 1 doing their job and 2 trying to help that should be taken into account in sentencing.
    Like (48)
    Follow
    Share
    I've been a paramedic for 20 years. I know that in my job, your risk of being injured or killed, sometimes intentionally, is increased. That is a risk I choose to take. The death penalty is barbaric and has no place in civilized society. The death penalty is not justice, it is revenge.
    Like (288)
    Follow
    Share
    A murder is a murder.....the occupation of the victim should not make a difference.
    Like (248)
    Follow
    Share
    WELL, 8 HOURS AGO THE HOUSE PASSED THIS BILL 271-143. LET'S SEE IF WE CAN GET THE SENATE TO KILL IT! Government is saying, in essence, that the lives of those in authority are more important and valuable than the lives of ordinary citizens! Our "public servants" have morphed into a privileged ruling class! As Countable member Dylan T. said: "To vote yes is to imply that all lives are in fact NOT equal. As heinous as it is to intentionally end the life of a sworn officer of the law, this is exactly what they are trained for. How is killing someone without any hostility training, self defense, weapons handling and deescalation training less heinous?" UPDATED: It looks like the House will be voting on this bill Thursday, May 18th.! So, are we going to allow the government to set up special classes of American citizens, whose killing or attempted killing will call for the death penalty?! But hey, if someone kills or attempts to kill YOU, an ordinary citizen, well, you just might not be special enough. Whatever happened to "ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL...?" Don't get me wrong, I'm a big supporter of LEOs and other first responders! But do we REALLY want to set this kind of precedent of special classes of citizens???! Think of the implications and possible ramifications before you vote YEA! Yes, it's true that LEOs are getting targeted just because of their occupation. But it's also true that just plain ORDINARY AMERICAN CITIZENS ARE BEING TARGETED BY MUSLIM TERRORISTS AND ILLEGAL ALIENS! H.R. 115: Thin Blue Line Act - To amend title 18, United States Code, to provide additional aggravating factors for the imposition of the death penalty based on the status of the victim. Summary: This bill amends the federal criminal code to expand the list of statutory aggravating factors in death penalty determinations to also include the killing or attempted killing of a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or other first responder. Sponsor: Vern Buchanan [FL-16-R] Text of bill: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-115hr115ih/pdf/BILLS-115hr115ih.pdf
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    If it's murder, doesn't matter what their job was...punish the guily for murder of any human being, period!
    Like (73)
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    I would like to see what the definition/ outline of what attempting to murder is. The public has a different understanding of laws. WE could think that actually attempting/ intent/ action would constitute an attack. BUT what if a noncomplying protester resist (as they should) as police try to restrain them falls under the guideline of "attempting". I dont want another patriot bill folks.
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    They risk their life's ever day to save us. Anything that someone tries to do that harms them or could. That person should have a way more severe punishment. This goes for our military, police, doctors, and firefighters.
    Like (48)
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    One person's life is not more valuable than another's.
    Like (47)
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    This is unnecessary. Stop perpetuating the myth that police officers are under attack. It is already a heightened offense to kill a cop. Our police believe they are under siege and are behaving accordingly. It's dangerous for everyone. Even as the wife of a retired LEO I cannot support this.
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    We shouldn't have the death penalty.
    Like (28)
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    It's a personal fear as my son is a Houston Firefighter and daughter-in-law a Paramedic. They chose these careers because it was their passion to help others. The pay won't make them rich, but they love what they do. They shouldn't have to work in fear!
    Like (23)
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    Standards for a murder conviction and sentencing should be uniform regardless of who the victims are.
    Like (19)
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    Their job is tough enough as first responders to robberies, fires, domestic disputes. But when protest groups chant "Fry 'em like bacon", that's crossing a line, inciting violence. So, if our first responders, police, firemen, national guard are injured or killed as a result of the actions of these protest groups, they should be held accountable.
    Like (16)
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    Maybe crimes committed BY first responders aka cops, should be penalized more strongly as well...ya know, since they're ALL such angels
    Like (14)
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    A murder is a murder. There should be no special consideration beyond that. If normal murders are a factor is death penalty decisions, we needn't make a special class to weight that consideration.
    Like (13)
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    Yet another attempt to legislate away the unsubstantiated fears of some of our fellow citizens that law enforcement is under attack, brought to you by our self-serving legislators fearful of losing their jobs!
    Like (12)
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    We should abolish the death penalty, not create more avenues.
    Like (12)
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    While I'm not a big fan of the death penalty I still vote yea for this bill. I would rather see 40 or 50 years without the possibility of parole as that would limit the number of appeals. Rather then establishing a separate class of people I think this establishes a separate class of occupations which are both critical and extremely dangerous.
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    No. No death penalty. As Bryan Stevenson's book "Just Mercy" shows, the death penalty has killed multiple innocent people. Rather than strengthening it, we need to abolish it.
    Like (10)
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    While they are incredibly dedicated their lives are not any more/less special than any other murder victim.
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