What does it solve?
Guns and hate are a fatal combination. In an average year, more than 10,300 hate crimes in the United States involve a firearm—more than 28 each day. In most of the US, some people convicted of hate crimes can still legally buy and have guns. Congress and state legislatures must pass laws that keep guns out of the hands of those who have been convicted of hate crimes.
The work to prevent hate-motivated violence must include stronger gun laws, like the Disarm Hate Act, which closes a dangerous loophole in federal law by prohibiting people convicted of violent or threatening hate crimes from having a gun. States should also act to stop people convicted of hate crimes from buying or having a gun. In addition, Extreme Risk laws can help prevent access to guns by people who have shown serious warning signs that they are a threat to others, including those who are motivated by bias.
How it works
People convicted of a hate crime shouldn’t have guns.
The vast majority of hate crimes are directed against communities of color, religious minorities, and LGBTQ people. These hate crimes can become deadly when firearms are involved. Easy access to firearms gives a hate-filled individual the opportunity to shatter numerous lives and whole communities, as evidenced by the October 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue, when a white nationalist killed 11 worshippers and injured six more; the June 2015 shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, when a white supremacist opened fire in a church, killing nine Black worshippers; and the June 2016 shooting at Pulse nightclub, Orlando, FL, when a gunman shot and killed 49 people and injured 53, most of whom identified as LGBTQ and Latinx.
Current federal and state gun laws do not adequately address the problem. While all felonies prohibit gun possession under federal law, most misdemeanors, including hate crime misdemeanors, do not—even though hate crimes involving firearms were the catalyst for hate crime laws in the United States. Hate crime misdemeanors can be serious, violent acts, but under federal law, a violent or threatening hate crime misdemeanor conviction does not prohibit gun possession. 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 buy a gun.
By the numbers
Racism, most often against Black people, motivated 54 percent of reported hate crimes in 2019.
Anti-religious bias, most often anti-Jewish bias, motivated 21 percent of reported hate crimes in 2019.
Anti-LGBTQ bias motivated 19 percent of reported hate crimes in 2019.