(JTA) — A bipartisan bill would increase the federal penalty for bomb threats and other threats of violence against religious institutions and ensure such acts can be prosecuted as a hate crime.
The bipartisan Combating Anti-Semitism Act of 2017, introduced Monday by Reps. David Kustoff, R-Tenn., and Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., comes after a rash of 150 bomb threat hoaxes. A Jewish teenager with dual Israeli-American citizenship was charged last week in the bulk of those threats.
“The rise in threats at religious community centers is deeply disturbing and makes it clear that existing federal laws do not suitably deter these acts of hate,” Kustoff, who is Jewish, added in a statement.
Added Kilmer: “No American should be made a target because of his or her faith.”
This bipartisan legislation would amend the Church Arson Prevention Act enacted in 1996 to ensure that individuals who make bomb threats and other “credible threats” can be prosecuted for committing a hate crime.
The current law only calls for misdemeanor charges. The new law would create a penalty of up to five years in prison if such threats lead to damage.