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Everytown For Gun Safety Applauds Reintroduction of Disarm Hate Act to Prohibit People Convicted of Misdemeanor Hate Crimes From Possessing or Purchasing Guns

June 17, 2021

WASHINGTON – Everytown for Gun Safety today released the following statements applauding the reintroduction of the Disarm Hate Act — legislation introduced by Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) that would prohibit people convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from possessing or purchasing guns. The bill’s reintroduction comes as the country marks five years since the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12 and six years since the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston on June 17, both spurred by hate. 

Research shows hate crimes are on the rise. In an average year, more than 10,300 hate crimes involve a firearm — more than 28 each day. Earlier this year, nine people were shot, eight fatally, in Atlanta and six of the eight killed were Asian women, a painful reminder of how violence has risen against the AAPI community, particularly AAPI women, during the pandemic. Current federal and state gun laws do not adequately address the problem. While all felonies prohibit someone from purchasing or possessing a firearm under federal law, most misdemeanors, including hate crime misdemeanors, do not. Hate crime misdemeanors can be serious, violent acts, but under federal law, a violent or threatening hate crime misdemeanor conviction does not prohibit someone from buying or having a gun. In addition, while nearly half of the states have laws closing this gap, most states do not. This means that in much of the country a person convicted of a violent hate crime could legally pass a background check and purchase and possess a firearm. More information on hate crimes and gun violence is available here.

“I survived being shot in the 2006 Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle shooting, where five of my colleagues were also shot, one fatally,” said Cheryl Stumbo, a member of the Everytown Survivor Network. Cheryl is also a survivor program manager for Everytown for Gun Safety. “At the time, it was the worst hate crime in Washington State history, so I know up close and personally, the awful, reverberating impact that hate crimes have on individuals, families and whole communities. Fifteen years later, I still struggle with some lingering PTSD symptoms, including anxiety and depression, and my community remains on high alert, never feeling totally safe. The Disarm Hate Act would close the dangerous gap in the law by preventing people who have committed lesser hate crimes from getting their hands on guns the next time they act on their hate.”

“There is currently no federal law that prevents people convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from owning or buying guns — a situation that defies both common sense and common decency,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “We applaud Rep. Cicilline and Sen. Casey for introducing legislation to disarm hate, an effort that is more urgent than ever given that hate crimes are on the rise.”

“We know guns and hate are a deadly mix,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “As we mark the anniversaries of two shootings spurned by hate, we applaud the reintroduction of legislation by Rep. Cicilline and Sen. Casey to combat these deadly hate crimes. We know the common-sense measures that can save lives, like disarming those convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes. What we need now is action.”

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