The Trump administration has prepared draft legislation to expedite capital cases against mass shooters, it announced Monday.
Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, told reporters to expect the legislation as part of a larger gun control proposal from the White House, Fox News reports. The total legislative package is expected after Congress returns from its August recess on September 9th.
The announcement comes after a mass shooting in Odessa, Texas, in which a gunman killed five and injured 22 people. On Sunday, President Donald Trump called the shooter "another very sick person," and said that shootings were "a big problem. It's a mental problem."
Short did not share further details, but the legislation has been in the works for at least a month. In early August, following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Trump called for the implementation of a federal death penalty for hate crimes, adding that it should "be delivered quickly, decisively, and without years of needless delay."
Later that month, Attorney General William Barr told the Fraternal Order of Police's biennial conference that his department was working on legislation establishing "a timetable for judicial proceedings" involving the execution of mass murderers or offenders who murder police officers.
An expedited timetable for executions would reflect the growing concern among many conservatives that the capital trial process has become bloated by an indefinite appellate process. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the 23 people executed in 2017 had been on death row an average of over 20 years after conviction.
The new legislation is likely to draw sharp opposition from Democrats in Congress, including those running for president. Essentially every major 2020 Democrat publicly supports death penalty abolition, with the possible exception of former vice president Joe Biden. The White House's push to execute mass murderers could give the president an electoral advantage on the issue, as majorities of the population consistently support the use of the death penalty.