Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in Manhattan on June 17.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in Manhattan on June 17. Credit: Marcus Santos

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday said the state is focusing on defining domestic terrorism as “hate-inspired, mass murder by an American” as a way to combat violent groups in the United States.

Cuomo said the state is in the early stages of contacting experts and comparing existing laws in other states. But strictly defining groups as domestic terrorists could allow the state to use high technology equipment, internet surveillance and other techniques now restricted by law to efforts to combat international terrorism. A new definition of domestic terrorism could also be used to tap more federal funding for law enforcement.

The FBI said domestic terrorists have used freedom-of-speech protections in the Constitution to “further their political agenda.”

"We are in a transition again where we have these new problems, new complexities that crop up that we have to adjust to,” Cuomo said in a radio interview on Long Island.

"These white supremacist groups, these white nationalist groups, this hate that breeds on the internet, and then you put that together with an assault weapon and you have 22 dead in a couple of minutes,” Cuomo said. "I'm going to do a proposal for a law in the state of New York that basically redefines domestic terrorism."

The FBI defines domestic terrorism as actions made by “individuals and/or groups inspired by or associated primarily with U.S.-based movements that espouse extremist ideologies of a political, religious, social, racial or environmental nature.”

“The threat of domestic terrorism also remains persistent overall, with actors crossing the line from First Amendment protected rights to committing crimes to further their political agenda,” the FBI stated.

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