Democrats are looking to disarm American citizens guilty of committing a “hate crime” with a new bill that is awaiting a vote in Congress.
The congressional effort — the Disarm Hate Act — is being led by Democratic Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island and Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, the Trace reports.
The bill would add misdemeanor hate crime convictions to a list of gun sale prohibitions. The last addition to the prohibition list was in 1997 via the Lautenberg Amendment which barred those with domestic abuse violators from purchasing a firearm.
A bill unveiled in Congress yesterday, which calls for a gun ban for misdemeanor hate crime offenders, would be the first new prohibiting factor for gun sales since 1997. https://t.co/I56oRSQlAj
— The Trace (@teamtrace) September 11, 2019
In addition to bills that would ban high-capacity magazines and encourage states to pass red flag laws, the House Judiciary Committee will also consider a measure to block people convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from obtaining firearms.
The new bill would add to background check legislation the House passed in February that is stalled because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to schedule it for debate in the upper chamber.
Supporters of the Disarm Hate Act say it is a necessary response to mass shootings like the ones in an El Paso Walmart and Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, which targeted people on the basis of ethnicity or religion.
According to the report, Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence has endorsed the bill, saying it would work to prevent some hateful people from potentially carrying out targetted assaults.
“This is about identifying a group of people who are particularly and demonstrably dangerous, people who have escalated their bigotry into violent crime,” said Ari Freilich, a Giffords staff attorney. “It’s a group that we know from experts are likely to escalate their crimes. People who start defacing graves go on to threats and assaults.”
Trace reports the bill’s main effort is to nationalize policies that some states already have in place regarding hate crime violations and how they prevent some individuals from purchasing a firearm. Here’s more:
Note: The author of this article has included commentary that expresses an opinion and analysis of the facts.
While the Disarm Hate Act would add a new class of prohibited gun buyers, it is contingent upon existing state hate crime statutes for enforcement. That’s because all federal hate crimes come with a potential 10-year prison sentence, which means such convictions are already counted as felonies by the FBI’s background check system and prohibit would-be gun buyers.
And state hate crime laws vary widely. Four states lack any kind of hate crime statute, and 20 states lack misdemeanor hate crime laws that would be covered by the legislation. As a result, the new act would in practice not apply in 24 states. State laws also diverge when it comes to protecting particular classes of people. Alabama, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Idaho, and Montana apply hate crime penalties to offenses that target people on the basis of race, religion, or ethnicity, but not gender or sexual orientation.