Cicilline Introduces Bill to Close Hate Crimes Loophole

May 14, 2019

WASHINGTON – Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC) Chair David N. Cicilline (RI-01) today introduced legislation to prohibit the sale of firearms to individuals convicted of hate crimes.


“Over and over again we have seen what happens when a convicted white supremacist, white nationalist, or neo-Nazi is able to purchase a gun,” said Cicilline, who serves as Vice Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. “This bill closes the Hate Crimes Loophole and makes it much harder for someone to give voice to their hatred in a volley of gunfire. It’s just common sense. If you’ve been convicted of a hate crime, you don’t get to buy a gun. Full stop.”


“Hate crimes and acts of violent extremism have a deeply damaging impact not just on the most proximate victims but on the entire community targeted in an attack,” said Chelsea Parsons, Vice President of Gun Violence Prevention at the Center for American Progress. “Guns are the weapon of choice in far too many of these incidents and their use causes tremendous harm to historically vulnerable communities, both when they are used as instruments of murder and as tools to threaten and intimidate. This bill is a crucial measure to help ensure that individuals with a demonstrated history of hate-fueled criminal conduct do not continue to have easy access to guns.”


The Disarm Hate Act closes the Hate Crimes Loophole by prohibiting the sale of firearms to anyone convicted of assaulting someone based on their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.


Although convicted felons are currently prohibited from purchasing or possessing a gun under Federal law, very few states bar individuals convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime from buying a gun. A misdemeanor hate crime, which can include menacing or assault, is often a precursor for more severe attacks.


A 2014 study conducted by Indiana State University found that since 2001, lone wolf terrorists have increasingly turned to high-powered guns, rather than explosives, as their weapon of choice. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 59% of domestic terrorist attacks carried out between April 1, 2009 and February 1, 2015 were perpetrated with a gun. The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) found roughly 56,130 hate crimes involving the use of a firearm in the U.S. between 2010 and 2016.