Press Release

Giffords Praises Introduction of Bill to Slow the Rapid Rise of Hate-Fueled Violence

Senator Bob Casey and Representative David Cicilline introduce Disarm Hate Act to prevent individuals convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing a gun

May 15, 2019Giffords, the gun safety organization led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, praised Senator Bob Casey and Representative David Cicilline for introducing legislation to slow the rapid rise of hate-fueled violence. The bill comes as a number of recent shootings underscored the growing tide of violence specifically targeting minority communities. The Disarm Hate Act, introduced in both the House and Senate, would prohibit firearm access among people who have been convicted of a hate crime involving the use or threatened use of violence or a deadly weapon.

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords:

“Our nation’s heart has been broken too many times by hate-fueled acts of violence. It’s led Americans to be afraid that how they pray or who they are is enough for someone to target them. This tragic reality should shake our country to its core. I applaud Senator Casey and Representative Cicilline for standing up to the emboldened forces of hatred and bigotry. Political violence and hate speech have no place in our society. This legislation is a critical step to confronting the realities of hatred in America, and actively working to make it harder for dangerous people fueled by hate to access firearms and murder innocent people.”

Since 2015, hate crime incidents across the US have become substantially more numerous and more violent; police departments in numerous major cities have reported significant spikes in hate crimes. And the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that the number of active hate groups reached a record high in 2018. Rising hate crime rates have been driven largely by rising rates of violent hate, and data shows that these increases have negatively affected impacted groups across the country.

Individuals who have committed hate crimes pose an even greater threat to public safety: researchers have found that individuals with a prior conviction for a violent misdemeanor were nine times as likely to commit subsequent violent crimes and also nine times as likely to commit subsequent firearm offenses. Under current law, those with felony convictions are prohibited from buying or possessing a gun, but those convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes are not. The Disarm Hate Act would:

  • Define misdemeanor hate crime. This category would include misdemeanors under Federal, State or tribal law that include the threat, use or attempted use of force and are found to be motivated at least in part by hate or bias against the victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
  • Keep firearms out of the hands of those convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes.  It would prohibit the purchase, possession or shipment of a firearm by anyone convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime or who received a hate crime sentence enhancement, and prohibit the sale of firearms to anyone known to have been convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime.

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