New Bill Would Create Harsher Penalties for Cop Killers

Matt O'Hern
Cop killers may face harsher penalties if the 'Back the Blue Act' passes and is signed into law.Photo byGeralt / Pixabay

Criminals who target law enforcement officers may face harsher penalties if a new bill known as the 'Back the Blue Act', is passed and signed into law. U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R- Tenn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), were joined by 37 of their Senate Republican colleagues to introduce the bill which would also provide new tools for officers to protect themselves.

“Across the Volunteer State and our nation, law enforcement officials continuously risk their lives to protect our communities, and they deserve our support,” Sen. Blackburn said. “The Back the Blue Act stiffens the penalties for criminals who target public safety and law enforcement officials, helping to deter those crimes and keep our heroes safe.”


  • 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.

The legislation is cosponsored by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), John Thune (R-S.D.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

According to Blackburn, the Back the Blue Act is endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), and the Sergeants Benevolent Association NYPD.

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Matt O’Hern’s journalism experience includes political news reporting for various organizations and news publications in Florida since 2005. O’Hern graduated from Samford University in Birmingham, AL with a degree in journalism.

Orlando, FL

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