(WASHINGTON) Today, Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05) and Representatives Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Maxwell Frost (FL-10), James Clyburn (SC-06), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Brian Higgins (NY-26), John Garamendi (CA-08), Katie Porter (CA-47) and Summer Lee (PA-12) introduced the Disarm Hate Act to prevent individuals convicted of violent misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing or possessing firearms. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) is introducing companion legislation in the U.S. Senate.
The Disarm Hate Act would address the dangerous gap in current federal law by providing that individuals who have been convicted of a misdemeanor-level hate crime, or received an enhanced sentence for a misdemeanor crime after a judicial finding that they acted with hate or bias motivation, are prohibited from buying or possessing guns.
Congresswoman Nikema Williams (GA-05), a member of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force said:
“Just over two years ago, Atlanta witnessed the Atlanta Spa Shootings, a horrific act of anti-Asian hate. Our communities are still healing from the trauma. No matter your race, ethnicity, or gender, everyone has the right to live without fear of violence in their workplace or public spaces. We’ve mourned tragedy after tragedy from gun violence, it is past time to keep guns out of the hands of people convicted of hate crimes.”
“Four years after a white supremacist came to El Paso to slaughter Mexicans and immigrants in what was the deadliest targeted attack against Latinos in modern American history, hatred against Hispanics and migrants undoubtedly persists,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “Hate and bigotry, coupled with easy access to weapons of war, make for a terrifying and deadly combination. Too many communities – including my own – know the consequences all too well. As legislators, we have a solemn obligation to act and prevent further gun violence atrocities. I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing critical legislation to keep firearms out of the hands of those who should never have them.”
“People who have been convicted of hate crimes should not have access to firearms. It’s that simple,” Senator Casey said. “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.”
“Seven years after the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando and only weeks after the deadly shooting in Jacksonville that left three Black Floridians dead — my home state of Florida has seen and lived through some of the darkest instances of gun-enabled hate at the cost of innocent lives,” said Rep. Frost. “People with a criminal history of hate and violence in their hearts should not be able to access a gun to commit the next mass shooting. The Disarm Hate Act is a critical step we must take to end gun violence in Florida and across our country and spark change from tragedy.”
“As we tragically witnessed in Charleston, South Carolina at Emanuel AME Church in 2015, and far too often elsewhere, hatred and guns are a lethal mix,” said Rep. Clyburn. “We must do more to keep deadly firearms out of the hands of those seeking to use them to commit these heinous crimes. To that end, earlier this year I reintroduced my legislation to close the Charleston Loophole, and today I am pleased to join Rep. Escobar in reintroducing the Disarm Hate Act. I urge the Republican majority to bring these common-sense bills to the House floor for a vote. Lives are at stake.”
“Oregon is a leader in gun safety and already classifies hate crimes as a firearm-prohibiting offense. It’s time to bring Oregon’s gun safety model to Congress. It is unacceptable that people convicted of targeted hate crimes can continue to access guns, which we know increases the lethality of these attacks. This should be something that everyone can agree on,” said Rep. Blumenauer.
“It is unacceptable that an individual who has been convicted of a misdemeanor-level hate crime can purchase a firearm. As the author of California’s assault weapons ban and a member of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, I am committed to ending America’s gun violence epidemic,” said Rep. Garamendi. “While hate-based mass shootings have become all too common, we cannot accept them as inevitable. I am honored to work with Rep. Escobar to build a safer future for families nationwide.”
“Western New York knows all too well the devastating impact that crimes motivated by hate and bias can have on a community,” said Rep. Brian Higgins. “This legislation builds on the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and takes another step toward ending senseless violence, like the racist mass shooting that took place in Buffalo, by closing legal loopholes to prevent those with a history of committing hate crimes from possessing deadly weapons. I am proud to join my colleagues today in introducing this commonsense bill.”
“Hate crimes are rising across the country, but criminals who commit them can still get their hands on a gun,” said Rep. Porter. “We know how to prevent gun violence, and we need politicians to have the courage to stand up to the gun lobby to save lives. I’m proud to co-lead the Disarm Hate Act with Rep. Escobar to protect our communities from hate and violence.”
Rep. Summer Lee said, “Representing a community that’s still reeling from the trauma of the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting, I see every day the devastating impact of laws that give white supremacists access to weapons of war. The Disarm Hate Act will protect our communities against the scourge of anti-Black hate crimes, rising antisemitism, islamophobia, anti-asian and anti-trans hate. By addressing the deadly gap in our federal laws, our bill will keep firearms out of the hands of individuals convicted of misdemeanor-level hate crimes or those who have received enhanced sentences due to hate or bias motivation. This is a critical step towards safeguarding our communities against gun violence and ensuring minoritized and vulnerable folks don’t have to live in constant fear.”
“Violent extremists and hate-motivated offenders pose serious threats to the safety of historically marginalized communities, and easy access to firearms makes it more likely that a hate crime will have a fatal outcome. Hate-motivated offenders have committed some of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history and even when they do not fire guns, they consistently use them to threaten, intimidate, and humiliate their victims. We applaud Senator Casey, Rep. Escobar, and Rep. Frost for introducing the Disarm Hate Act to respond to the growing tide of violent hate crimes and to help prevent these tragedies before they happen,” said Nick Wilson, Senior Director of Gun Violence Prevention, Center for American Progress.
The Disarm Hate Act is endorsed by National Violence Domestic Hotline, Amnesty International USA, Everytown, Brady, The United Methodist Church, The Violence Policy Center, March for Our Lives, WOLA, ADL, AFT, Giffords, Human Rights Campaign, and Sandy Hook Promise.
All original co-leads represent states and districts that have been impacted by hate-motivated mass shootings.
In June 2015, a white supremacist murdered nine worshippers during a bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
In June 2016, a gunman attacked a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, leaving 49 people dead and 53 others injured.
In October 2018, 11 worshippers were killed and seven others injured during at attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
In August 2019, a man killed 23 victims and wounded 23 others in a shooting in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, admitting to targeting Mexicans.
In March 2021, a gunman killed eight victims on a shooting rampage through three spas in Atlanta, Georgia, six of whom were Asian American women.
In February 2022, a gunman with a history of expressing support for Nazis and Proud Boys groups opened fire at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Portland, Oregon, killing 1 and injuring 5 others.
In May 2022, a self-described supporter of white supremacy killed 10 people in a supermarket in a predominately Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York.
In May 2022, a Nevada man carried firearms into a Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, shooting and killing one congregant and injuring five others with gunfire in an attempt to kill all 44 parishioners. The man allegedly targeted the church because of the congregants’ national origin and religion.
In August 2023, an individual tore down the pride flag in a Southern California store while yelling homophobic slurs. When the store owner confronted the individual, he shot and killed her. The assailant had a history of anti-LGBTQI+ posts on social media, and the incident is now being investigated as a hate crime.
Full text of the bill can be found here.
Congresswoman Nikema Williams proudly serves Georgia’s Fifth Congressional District on the exclusive Financial Services Committee. She is a champion of voting rights and builds on the Fifth District’s legacy as the cradle of the civil rights movement as co-chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus. Congresswoman Williams is committed to closing the racial wealth gap and ensuring the promise of America for all–regardless of your ZIP code or bank account.