SAN FRANCISCO, CA —Today, Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS), the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, and its partner organization the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, applauded the California Assembly for advancing a new bill, AB 785, which helps close a gap in California law that permits individuals convicted of hate crimes to possess and acquire firearms within 10 years of conviction.

Robin Lloyd, Government Affairs Director, Americans for Responsible Solutions:

“We applaud the Assembly for passing this responsible bill that will help close a gaping loophole in California law that lets individuals convicted of hate crimes possess firearms. We especially want to thank Assembly Member Jones-Sawyer for his leadership in introducing this lifesaving bill. Today’s vote puts California one step closer to joining the growing list of states across the country that have taken responsible steps that make it harder for hate crime offenders to access guns.”

Ari Freilich, Staff Attorney and Director of California Legislative Affairs, Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence:

“We thank the California Assembly for passing the bipartisan Disarm Hate Act to address a large and growing threat to public safety in this state. Guns are used in thousands of hate crimes every year. Recent mass murders targeting our nation’s LGBT, African-American, and Sikh communities at a nightclub in Orlando, a historic church in Charleston, and a temple in Oak Creek were among the deadliest hate crimes ever committed on US soil, and among the deadliest mass shootings in our nation’s history. The Disarm Hate Act will help keep lethal weapons out of the hands of convicted hate offenders who have escalated their toxic bigotry into violent assaults, threats, and other crimes. This bill will help make California safer and freer for all who call it home, and we are proud to sponsor it.”

About AB 785

Under California law, individuals convicted of any of roughly 40 separate misdemeanors are prohibited from owning or acquiring guns for 10 years after conviction, unless they successfully petition a court to demonstrate that they are not a threat to public safety. However, the state penal code’s list of firearm-prohibiting misdemeanors does not include hate crimes.

Between 2010 and 2014, roughly 43,000 hate crimes committed in the United States involved the use or threatened use of a gun. And since 2014, hate crime incidents have become more numerous and more vicious, both in California and across the United States, posing a serious threat to targeted groups and innocent lives.

The Disarm Hate Act (AB 785), which was drafted and sponsored by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, would prohibit people convicted of hate crime misdemeanors from accessing lethal weapons within 10 years of conviction, unless they can successfully demonstrate to a court that they are not a threat to public safety.