Gun ban sought for people convicted of hate crimes

Getty Images

Any person who has been convicted of a hate crime would be prohibited from purchasing a gun under new legislation sponsored by a Rhode Island Democrat.

"If you threaten a black family because of their race, you shouldn't be allowed to buy a gun,” said Rep. David N. Cicilline.

"If you paint a swastika on the door of a synagogue, you shouldn't be allowed to buy a gun,” he added. "If you beat a gay person because they're gay, you shouldn't be allowed to buy a gun.” 

The Hate Crimes Prevention Act, however, is unlikely to pass in a Republican-controlled Congress.

While federal law prohibits felons from owning guns, it does not block people who have been convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing firearms.

A misdemeanor hate crime could involve “vandalizing a place of worship” or “assaulting someone based on their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability,” Cicilline noted.

This is often a “precursor for more severe attacks,” he added.

Cicilline is also sponsoring an assault weapons ban.