People who have been convicted of hate crimes would be barred from buying or possessing firearms in the U.S. under a new bill backed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
Gillibrand pointed to the rise in hate crimes and suspected hate crimes in which shootings have played a role in recent months, including the deaths of eight people in March, six of whom were women of Asian descent.
"The coronavirus lockdowns amplified the gun violence epidemic in our country, especially in New York, where gun violence has soared. We must act to prevent proven offenders from accessing firearms," Gillibrand said in a statement.
The bill would prevent anyone with a misdemeanor hate crimes convictions and higher from owning or buying a gun. The proposal dovetails with calls from congressional Democrats in April to address gun violence by boosting the ability of law enforcement agencies to solve and prosecute gun-related crimes and halt illegal gun trafficking.
State lawmakers in New York this month also approved a package of new gun control measures, including a bill that would make it easier for lawsuits to be filed against gun manufacturers who are believed to have knowingly sold illegal firearms to gun dealers.
"There have already been more than 250 mass shootings in the United States this year alone," Gillibrand said. "We can help honor the victims and families who have lost loved ones to gun violence by passing the commonsense Disarm Hate Act and by closing the Violent Hate Crimes Loophole. It’s far past time to act on senseless gun violence, and this bill will make a true difference preventing future tragedies."