Press Release

June 16, 2021
Cardin, Casey Introduce Legislation Aimed to Prevent Future Hate Crimes Committed with Firearms

WASHINGTON – As the Nation recognizes the anniversaries of the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando and the Emanuel AME Church massacre in Charleston, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) joined U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and U.S. Representative David Cicilline (D-R.I.-1) in introducing the Disarm Hate Act, legislation that would prevent individuals convicted of violent misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing or possessing firearms. The U.S. has seen a spike in hate incidents, including in March of this year, when a shooter in Atlanta murdered 8 people, 6 of whom were women of Asian descent.

“With increasing frequency we see that mass shootings are perpetrated by individuals with motives such as anti-Semitism, racism or homophobia,” said Senator Cardin. “The Disarm Hate Act takes meaningful steps to curb the dangerous rise in hateful acts of gun violence by preventing individuals convicted of hate crimes from purchasing or possessing firearms.

“This past weekend, we honored the 49 people murdered at Pulse during a brutal attack on LGBTQ+ people – one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history. Tomorrow, we will mark the sixth anniversary of the Charleston massacre and remember the nine African Americans murdered by a white extremist at Mother Emanuel. In 2018, the congregants at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh were attacked by an anti-Semitic shooter and 11 people lost their lives,” said Senator Casey. “In honor of the victims of these tragedies and amidst a wave of anti-Asian hate sweeping our Nation, we must fight for legislation that protects all Americans from acts of hateful violence. I encourage my colleagues to support the Disarm Hate Act, which would prohibit individuals convicted of violent or threatening hate crimes from obtaining a gun and prevent further tragedies.”

“The link between gun violence and hate crimes is clear. There is no reason someone who has already been convicted of such a heinous offense should be able to get their hands on a gun,” said Rep. Cicilline. “Americans are killed with guns 40,000 times each year in this country. This commonsense bill will make a real difference.”

“Individuals convicted of violent hate crimes should not have access to purchasing or possessing firearms,” said Sen. Menendez. “With hate crimes on the rise, it’s time for Congress to step up and close this gap. The common-sense Disarm Hate Act of 2021 would keep guns away from dangerous extremists and other violent individuals, ultimately keeping our communities safe and preventing senseless tragedies like the ones we’ve seen in recent months.”

“Violent hate crimes are not just a part of our nation’s history, they are an ongoing threat to historically targeted communities throughout the country. Far too often, violent extremists and white supremacists rely on firearms as a core tool to threaten, intimidate and otherwise victimize individuals and entire communities. This bill is a crucial step in helping ensure that individuals with a demonstrated history of committing hate crimes do not continue to have easy access to weapons of war. I commend Senator Casey and Congressman Cicilline for their continued leadership on this issue and look forward to helping ensure swift passage of this legislation,” said Chelsea Parsons, Vice President for Gun Violence Prevention Policy, Center for American Progress.

“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. We applaud Sen. Casey and Rep. Cicilline for introducing legislation to disarm hate, an effort that is more urgent than ever given that hate crimes are on the rise,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety.,

Despite evidence that guns are a preferred tool of violence and intimidation by perpetrators of hate crimes, a substantial gap in the law allows many individuals who have been convicted of hate crimes to purchase and possess firearms—also known as the Violent Hate Crimes Loophole. Under federal law, individuals convicted of felonies—including hate crimes—are prohibited from possessing guns. However, very few states bar individuals convicted of misdemeanor-level hate crimes from purchasing guns. This bill would finally close the Violent Hate Crimes Loophole and would prohibit the sale of firearms to individuals who have been convicted of threatening with a deadly weapon or assaulting someone based on their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.

This legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.).

The Disarm Hate Act is endorsed by Center for American Progress; Everytown for Gun Safety; Brady: United Against Gun Violence; Giffords; End Gun Violence Campaign – Amnesty International USA; Jewish Women International; Gays Against Guns; Sandy Hook Promise; Newtown Action Alliance; March for Our Lives; National Center for Transgender Equality; Pride Fund to End Gun Violence; Generation Progress; Anti-Defamation League; National Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Violence Policy Center; Washington Office on Latin America; AFT; and Ceasefire PA.

Read the Disarm Hate Act here.