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FLASH ALERT: INCREASED RISK OF VIOLENCE TOWARD FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL AND LAW ENFORCEMENT

FLASH ALERT: INCREASED RISK OF VIOLENCE TOWARD FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL AND LAW ENFORCEMENT SURROUNDING BIPARTISAN SAFER COMMUNITIES GUN ACT


Team: Savannah Fellows, Maria Ruehl, Rhiannon Thomas, NORTHCOM Team

Hannah Norton, Manja Vitasovic, Editor; Jennifer Loy, Chief of Staff

Thursday, June 23, 2022



Pro-Gun Supporters Protest Outside of Supreme Court[1]



The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) is issuing a FLASH ALERT for US government officials, law enforcement, civilians, and specifically for US Congress members, following the Senate passing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. The Senate's final vote occurred on Thursday, January 23, and the bill will now move to the House of Representatives.[2] Gun rights activists are preparing to protest and retaliate outside local federal buildings across the US to protect Second Amendment rights.


CTG is on HIGH ALERT due to the HIGH likelihood of increased social unrest in the US due to the Senate passing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act on June 24, 2022. Threats to the federal government and law enforcement were sent on social media and online platforms, especially on unmonitored ones like 4chan. Increased social unrest and violent protests are VERY LIKELY to occur across the US between gun supporters and those in opposition. Social unrest will VERY LIKELY continue if the bill advances to the House of Representatives, as both political sides will ALMOST CERTAINLY continue to push their gun policies, LIKELY increasing public divide.


On Thursday, June 23, 2022, the US Senate conducted a final vote to advance the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act after bypassing a Republican filibuster.[3] Created in response to the recent mass shootings in the US, the bill will require background checks for gun purchasers younger than 21 and will provide increased funding for mental health services. Gun safety bills in the US are controversial due to the politicized gun debate, in which most Republicans and far-right groups consider the gun regulations to infringe their Second Amendment rights. Since the bill’s public release on June 21, 2022, threats towards Congress members and federal agents have increased.[4] A 4chan thread, with a significant amount of violent rhetoric, was created on June 22, 2022, a day after the bill's release. It discusses the Turner Diaries, the Waco siege, and Ruby Ridge, all previously used to spread American militia propaganda.[5] Users are considering conducting attacks similar to Timothy McVeigh’s Oklahoma City bombing with a rental van loaded with fertilizer.[6] Thread participants express readiness to engage in a shootout with Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) agents and that “every single individual working for the American government needs to be executed.”[7] Users have discussed a desire for the civil war and state “there’s a 0% chance the US military can win a war of aggression against a bunch of red states.”[8] There is a roughly even chance of a violent uprising occurring from far-right individuals who believe their states could uptake aggressive measures to attempt to overpower the US military. These individuals would very like use unconventional methods of violence, such as acts of terror, to combat armed forces.

If the bill is passed by the House of Representatives and becomes law, it will very likely provoke violent individuals and groups. Mass shootings and extremist attacks will very likely increase, almost certainly further polarizing the US society and deepening the conflict, likely encouraging the uprising. The bill passing will almost certainly increase minorities and pro-gun individuals targeting. Right-wing extremist and white supremacist groups, like the Proud Boys, are very likely to conduct targeted attacks or encourage violent uprisings. The lack of content moderation on encrypted channels, like 4chan, will almost certainly ease attack planning and prevent detection.

Gun regulation reform will very likely cause pro and anti-gun safety individuals and group protests. Gun rights advocates, like the National Rifle Association (NRA), Second Amendment Foundation, Second Amendment Sisters, Socialist Rifle Association, Stonewall Shooting Sports of Utah, and Students for Concealed Carry will very likely group for joint protests and will likely remain active on social media. Pro-gun protesters will very likely carry concealed weapons, likely increasing the odds of gun violence.

The US government will almost certainly be pressured to form a bipartisan resolution as a compromise for both sides, likely to decrease the public’s division. However, it is very unlikely that the compromise will be reached soon, due to the high polarization between US political parties regarding the gun regulations.

CTG NORTHCOM Team assesses that the current threat climate is HIGH because of the controversial nature of gun legislation. Due to the divide between gun supporters and opposition, social unrest and conflict are very likely. The violent conflict would almost certainly cause a high number of injured and dead.

There is a HIGH PROBABILITY of protests from pro-gun and anti-gun groups, likely turning violent and jeopardizing the protesters safety. There is a HIGH PROBABILITY that government officials and federal agents will be targeted by gun rights supporters due to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act passing the Senate. The negative discourse and threats to the bill supporters will likely be acted on. Political tensions will very likely rise with the legislation change, as political leaders will almost certainly discuss controversial topics like mass shootings, gun laws, and mental health implications as part of upcoming campaigns, very likely increasing the public’s divide.

CTG’s NORTHCOM Team recommends that law enforcement and the federal government increase police presence, enforce security barriers, and response plans around local federal buildings where protests and demonstrations are likely. Social media and encrypted platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, and 4chan, should be monitored for threats to public safety and government officials. Some examples of indicators to be monitored include violent rhetoric and posts, while flagging these posts and users to remove content will likely help mitigate violence. Security personnel should be present at protests where counter-protests are likely, to help prevent violence escalation. Security protections, such as increased law enforcement around areas of protests, should remain in place in anticipation of social unrest, including possible shootings, following the House vote.

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[1]Pro-gun protesters outside the Supreme Court” by Jay Tamboli is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

[2] Senate passes bipartisan gun safety bill, AXIOS, June 2022, https://www.axios.com/2022/06/24/gun-control-bill-bipartisan-senate

[3] Gun Safety Bill Could Pass Out of Senate on Friday, Time, June 2022, https://time.com/6190683/gun-safety-bill-senate-mass-shootings/

[4] Senate Releases Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, Includes Medicaid Mental Health Provisions, Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, June 2022, https://ccf.georgetown.edu/2022/06/23/senate-releases-bipartisan-safer-communities-act-includes-medicaid-mental-health-provisions/

[5] How Ruby Ridge and Waco Led to the Oklahoma City Bombing, History, April 2020, https://www.history.com/news/how-ruby-ridge-and-waco-led-to-the-oklahoma-city-bombing

[6] CTG Threat Hunter on 4chan

[7] Ibid

[8] Ibid

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