Democrats on Capitol Hill are once again pushing to ban gun sales to those with a record of misdemeanor hate crimes. Under current federal law, those that have committed a hate crime are still able to purchase a gun in most states, without much trouble. U.S. Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and U.S. Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island each reintroduced the measure, the Disarm Hate Act, in their congressional chambers just days ago.
It has been one year since Pulse, the nightclub massacre of Orlando, and little to no progress has been made on gun control. There have been numerous protests supporting stricter gun control, often headed by activists and members of the LGBT community, but the legislation is always halted at the state and federal levels.
The Pulse gunman, Omar Mateen, killed 49 and injured dozens of others. Previous to the massacre, the F.B.I. suspected Mateen of being a terrorist, and had questioned him about his ties to I.S.I.S. on two occasions. The fact that a suspected terrorist can legally purchase a gun in most states in the U.S. has been the topic of many debates in Congress and raised much concern among the public.
Cicilline first introduced the Disarm Hate Act in February 2016, and it was followed by a companion measure in the Senate in the following months. It targets to close the Violent Hate Crimes Loophole that allows the sale of firearms to those who have been previously convicted of threatening or assaulting someone with a deadly weapon, based on their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.
The Rhode Island Representative maintains, “If you commit a hate crime, you shouldn’t be allowed to own a gun. Period. There is a clear link between these horrific hate crimes and gun violence. We know that those who commit hate crimes become increasingly violent as time goes on. No American family should have to suffer because of this loophole.”