BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — In response to the Tops mass shooting and various other acts of violence across the United States, Congressman Brian Higgins is putting his support behind a bill to stop those convicted of violent misdemeanor hate crimes from buying guns.

Introduced in the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate on September 13, the “Disarm Hate Act” would not only prevent people with this kind of criminal history from buying guns, but just generally possessing them, too.

Texas Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, who introduced the bill in the House, spoke of the violence seen in her own district.

“Four years after a white supremacist came to El Paso to slaughter Mexicans and immigrants in what was the deadliest targeted attack against Latinos in modern American history, hatred against Hispanics and migrants undoubtedly persists,” Escobar said.

Last year, 10 Black people were killed in the mass shooting at the Tops on Jefferson Avenue in Buffalo.

“Western New York knows all too well the devastating impact that crimes motivated by hate and bias can have on a community,” Higgins, who represents a large section of WNY, including Buffalo, said. “This legislation builds on the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and takes another step toward ending senseless violence.”

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act became law in June 2022, addressing mental health and federal laws concerning firearms.

In the Senate, New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand is one of the lawmakers co-sponsoring the Disarm Hate Act. Additionally, Higgins’ office says it has received the support of various organizations, such as Everytown, Brady, March for Our Lives and Sandy Hook Promise.

It has yet to be passed by either the House or Senate after its recent introduction.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award, JANY Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.