Shaheen Helps Introduce Legislation to Prevent Future Hate Crimes Committed with Firearms

June 21, 2021

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) helped introduce the Disarm Hate Act with Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) to 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. 

“From the Charleston massacre to the Pulse nightclub shooting to the recent massacre in Atlanta, our nation has grieved too many mass shootings at the hands of firearms. We must do what we can to stop these heart-wrenching murders,” said Shaheen. “That’s why I’m joining this effort to protect our communities from senseless violence by preventing individuals convicted of hate crimes from obtaining guns. This is a common-sense measure to keep guns away from violent individuals to prevent future tragedies from occurring.” 

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-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV). 

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. 

The text of the bill can be found here.