WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, joined Morning Joe on MSNBC to discuss the House Select Committee’s first public hearings on their investigation into the January 6th attack on our country, bipartisan negotiations in the Senate to pass commonsense gun safety legislation, and Peters’ efforts as Chairman to address the rising threat of domestic terrorism.
“I think they have an incredibly important job, and I think we’re all waiting to see exactly what they put forward. As you recall, my committee did an investigation immediately after the attack on January 6 looking at security breaches, what we need to do in order to make sure that an attack like we saw on the Capitol never occurs again. We made a number of recommendations for short-term fixes, but what was very clear and what we talked about at the time, is we needed to have a deeper investigation. What actually prompted all of these folks to descend on this Capitol and attempt to disrupt the election process to basically be engaged in an insurrection here on the Capitol grounds. Certainly, what came out just in our investigations is there was an awful lot of planning going on through the internet, there was a lot of chatter about folks who are coordinating their efforts to come here. So the question is, who was behind that? What led to that coordination, who financed some of these folks, and we know folks like the Proud Boys and Oathkeepers and other groups were intimately involved. And there was some long-term planning that went into their involvement here, but who was ultimately behind it.
“I think what the American people are going to hear tonight, as well as in further hearings, will likely be incredibly troubling. But it's important that we get that information out because this can never happen again. We cannot allow this to happen in this country of ours… I hope there is a widespread passion from the American people to understand that we all have a stake in the future of this country. We all have to speak out. We all have to condemn these actions. And we all have to be vigilant every single day to make sure that our democracy stays strong.”
“If you talk to the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security, they will all say that the number one terrorist threat in this country now is domestic terrorism. Certainly, we have to continue to keep our eye on foreign terrorism, but that's not where the significant threat lies. It lies from domestic attacks, particularly anti-government attacks. If you look at threats against folks in elected office or serving in a public capacity, we are seeing these are threats that go down to the school board level, the city council level.
“Certainly, this all has to be condemned. We have to make sure that folks who engage in any of these activities are held accountable and are punished to the full extent of the law. But we also need to be working in a very proactive way, similar to what we did when dealing with foreign terrorism with our intelligence services and making sure that the Department of Homeland Security is attempting to track groups in particular that espouse dangerous ideologies.
“Today, we're going to be doing a hearing in my committee talking about the insidious ideology of white supremacy and replacement theory and how that is actually stoking a lot of the recent attacks that we have seen. In fact, the majority of attacks of domestic terrorism across the country are being propagated as a result of these kinds of insidious ideologies.”
“Well, it's certainly not enough in the long run. But in the short run, I think we have to do something. There’s no question that we have to show some positive momentum, there are things that we must do.
“…I would like to see us closing the incredible loopholes that we have with our background checks. I'm a gun owner. I believe in Second Amendment rights. But there are common sense things we can do to close loopholes, and it's something that over 80% of the American people believe that we should do. I would hope that we could get that in this package that will come before us.
“We have to make some positive moves forward... I would hope that success breeds further success.”
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To watch Senator Peters’ interview on Morning Joe, click here.
As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters led the Senate’s first bipartisan investigative hearings and released a joint bipartisan report on the security, planning, and response failures related to January 6th attack. Peters is continuing to investigate the intelligence failures that led to January 6th.
Peters has also led efforts to address the broader national security threat posed by domestic terrorism. Building on his previous efforts, Peters today convened a committee hearing with outside experts to examine the threat of white supremacist extremism, including violence inspired by racist ideologies such as Great Replacement Theory. Last year, he convened a hearing with experts to examine the amplification of domestic extremist content on social media platforms. He also convened a two-part hearing with experts representing faith-based, civil rights, and academic and policy research organizations on the continued rise of domestic terrorism, including white supremacist and anti-government violence.
Last Congress, Peters secured the expansion of a successful grant program to help houses of worship and other nonprofits protect their facilities from potential attacks. As a part of the government funding bill that President Biden signed into law earlier this year, Peters helped secure nearly $250 million for the NSGP, a $70 million increase from previous funding levels. Nearly $3.5 million was given to nonprofits and faith-based organizations across Michigan to help secure their facilities against potential attacks, Peters announced last year.
To address the epidemic of gun violence, Peters has consistently talked about his support for passing commonsense gun safety legislation, including to strengthen background checks and help prevent tragedies through red flag laws. In March, Peters introduced legislation to expand federal mental health resources to support students in the aftermath of violent and traumatic events – such as school shootings like the tragic shooting at Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan in November of 2021 and Robb Elementary in Ulvade, Texas.