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The Use of Guns in Hate Crimes

Keeping Guns Out of the Hands of Violent Extremists

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The massacres at the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina and the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin have illuminated the ugly reality of mass shootings motivated by bias or hate in America. The use of guns in hate crimes—a trend that appears to be on the rise—threatens, intimidates, and terrorizes not just the individual victims but the entire membership of a historically vulnerable community with a message of fear and hatred.

Keeping guns out of the hands of individuals who perpetrate hate crimes is therefore crucial to ensuring the safety of groups who have historically been targeted because of their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability. Yet under federal law and the law in most states, individuals who have been convicted of hate crimes remain free to buy and possess guns.

Please join the Center for American Progress for a conversation with leading experts on the history of hate crime laws in the United States; the gaps in those laws that contribute to sporadic and inconsistent reporting; and new ideas for policy solutions to help keep communities safe from violent extremists armed with guns.