Sen. Casey introduces bill to ban gun sales to hate crime offenders

Sen. Casey introduces bill to ban gun sales to hate crime offenders
Sam Newhouse

As news of the slaughter inside an Orlando nightclub spread on Sunday, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey announced that he would respond with new gun control legislation.

Casey’s proposed Hate Crimes Prevention Act would prohibit purchase, possession or shipment of a firearm by anyone convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime who received a hate crime sentence enhancement. It would also prohibit the sale of firearms to anyone “reasonably suspected” to be guilty of a misdemeanor hate crime.

“If you have proven you will commit criminal acts based on hate, you absolutely should not have access to a gun. It’s common sense,” Casey said in a statement. ” If you are a member of Congress and you say you care about security then you have to take steps to keep guns out of the wrong hands.”

Current law prohibits those convicted of felony hate crimes from buying guns, but not misdemeanor hate crimes.

Casey added that “known hate groups are growing in the United States,” citing the Southern Poverty Law Center’s claimsthat 892 “hate groups” exist in the country, up 14 percent from 2014, and up 33 percent from 2000.

Casey added that an average of about 259,000 hate crimes happen each year, and between 2010 and 2014 alone, more than 43,000 hate crimes were committed with a firearm, according to National Crime Victimization Survey data.

Kate McGinty, the Democrat running in November against Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, said she strongly supports the proposal.

“While we continue to learn more about the perpetrator and his motives, what is clear is that we need to take serious action to protect our communities and prevent horrific incidents like this from occurring,” McGinty said in a statement. “It is not enough to simply talk about reducing gun violence; we need solutions. We cannot allow senseless acts of gun violence and terror to become the norm in America.”

Casey also supports other gun related measures, including a ban on military-style weapons, limits on magazine sizes, a ban on those on the terrorist watchlist from purchasing firearms and universal background checks.