U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins and several other Democratic members of Congress are introducing a bill aimed to prevent individuals convicted of violent misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing or possessing firearms.
Higgins' office said Monday that the Disarm Hate Act addresses a gap in current federal law. Those 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 would be prohibited from buying or having guns.
Higgins represents New York's 26th Congressional District, which includes the city of Buffalo, the site of the Tops shooting last year when a shooter, motivated by racial hatred, killed 10 people and wounded three others.
"Western New York knows all too well the devastating impact that crimes motivated by hate and bias can have on a community," said Higgins in a statement. "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 common sense bill."
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand co-sponsored similar legislation during the last Congress.