Gunman Steven Mathew Driscoll, who faces several charges after pointing his weapon at migrants who were gathered outside an El Paso, Texas, church before he fled police, has admitted to investigators that he was in illegal possession of his firearm due to a prior felony conviction, a federal complaint states. Driscoll referred to himself as the “eyes for America” after allegedly pointing his weapon in the face of man at the Sacred Heart Church in El Paso. Later that night he stalked around outside a Greyhound station, likely looking for more migrants to harass.
Driscoll, 27, now faces numerous charges following his arrest, including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, evading arrest, and more recently a federal weapons charge. The FBI El Paso field office also said officials would be prepared to probe potential federal civil rights violations if more information comes to light. But if a vigilante stalking migrants in order to threaten them with a firearm isn’t a civil rights violations, I don’t know what is.
RELATED STORY: Gunman who threatened migrants outside El Paso church called himself the 'eyes for America'
The federal complaint filed on Jan. 6 says Driscoll told investigators that the rifle he used to threaten migrants on New Year’s Eve was purchased a gun show, and that he fled police because he knew he wasn’t supposed to be in possession of the weapon due to his criminal record. “Driscoll stated that he evaded law enforcement on the above-mentioned occasion because he had a rifle in his vehicle.”
There aren’t many details regarding in the manner in which Driscoll purchased the rifle at the gun show. But we do know the guns laws in Texas—or the lack of gun laws in Texas, more accurately—and people selling from their private collections have been allowed to do so without conducting background checks. Only licensed dealers have had to conduct these checks. Federal law signed into place by President Joe Biden last year tightened the definition of dealers, but only if actually enforced by gun shows, longtime gun safety advocate Joe Sudbay tweeted at the time.
But we also do know Driscoll shouldn’t have had this weapon no matter the manner of purchase. Our broken system then allowed this man to threaten innocent people outside a fucking church. The threats have never been migrants, the threats have been domestic extremists, and especially armed domestic extremists, like the one who went to this very same border city in 2019 to target Mexicans. Riled up over a so-called Hispanic “invasion” of the state, this white supremacist murdered 23 people and injured 23 others. In the case of Driscoll, it’s unclear what his past conviction is related to. But how much do we want to bet that he’s railed about migrants being the actual lawbreakers? Does he know that seeking asylum is legal immigration? Does he even care?
As noted in the initial reporting here at Daily Kos, the violent incident outside Sacred Heart Church came just days after the Department of Homeland Security warned of potential extremist violence over the Biden administration’s now-delayed lifting of the anti-asylum Title 42 public health policy.
“So far, we have observed calls for attacks targeting primarily migrants and critical infrastructure, but our insight into [domestic violence extremist] plotting is constrained by these individuals’ use of online security measures to limit exposure to law enforcement,” said a Dec. 23 memo reported by CNN. The memo notes frankly horrific methods discussed by these domestic terrorists in their quest to harm migrants, including “placement of land mines along migration routes,” “luring migrants into trailers to poison them with gas,” and, as in Driscoll’s case, “firearms attacks.”
“Other users discussed shooting electrical substations near the US-Mexico border, likely to disrupt immigration facilities,” CNN continued. The memo stated this is a new development among the anti-migrant world, and said “these recent discussions may stem from widespread media coverage of recent attacks against other substations across the United States, particularly in Moore County, North Carolina.” Daily Kos’ Dave Neiwert reported last month that the Department of Homeland Security had warned extremists had “begun exhibiting an unhealthy interest in attacking the power grid.”
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