The Lead

Casey bill would bar people convicted of violent misdemeanor hate crimes from obtaining guns

By: - September 14, 2023 4:00 pm

Avery Hamill’s jacket with a message on gun violence at the Moms Demand Action rally on gun safety Monday, May 22, 2023, at the Pennsylvania Capitol. (Capital-Star photo by DaniRae Renno)

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.,on Thursday introduced legislation that would prevent people convicted of violent misdemeanor hate crimes from obtaining guns. 

The Disarm Hate Act addresses a gap in current federal law, which currently prohibits those convicted of felonies — including hate crimes— from possessing guns. The bill would update the law to include those convicted of violent misdemeanor-level hate crimes from obtaining a firearm.

“People who have been convicted of hate crimes should not have access to firearms. It’s that simple,” Casey said in a statement. “I’m introducing the Disarm Hate Act because it’s commonsense to keep guns out of the hands of people seeking to commit acts of hateful violence.”

The legislation is a companion to a bill introduced in the U.S. House by Reps. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas and Maxwell Frost, D-Fla. Along with nearly two dozen Democrats in the Senate, Casey’s bill is co-sponsored by fellow Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont. U.S. Rep. Summer Lee, D-12th District, is a co-sponsor of the House legislation. Neither bill has Republican co-sponsors.

“Hate can be deadly when it comes armed with a gun, a reality that has become painfully clear as hate crimes rise across the country,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, said in a statement. “We applaud Sen. Casey, Rep. Escobar and Rep. Frost for reintroducing legislation to prevent people convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from owning or buying guns, which is the very definition of a common sense law.”

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