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The Tragedy in Olathe and the Need to Disarm Hate

“Get out of my country.”

These were the words, according to news reports, of the gunman who shot two Indian men in at a bar in Olathe, Kansas on February 22. On Friday, a grand jury indicted the shooter on federal hate crime charges, a development that came nearly two years to the day after the mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and nearly one year after the attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

In each of these shootings, the attacker was apparently motivated by hatred, and in each, his access to a gun proved deadly. While one of the Indian men shot in Olathe survived, as did a bystander who was shot while intervening, 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla died as a result of his injuries.

This week is #DisarmHate Week, a week in which gun violence prevention advocates will be honoring the memory of those killed in shootings fueled by hate. Across the country, some 8,000 hate crimes a year – more than 20 a day – involve guns. As was the case in Olathe, the vast majority of attackers target racial or religious minorities.

Hate crimes also appear to be on the rise, but despite the repeated tragedies this country has experienced, it remains far too easy for hateful people – even those convicted of a hate crime – to obtain guns. Under federal law, a hate crime conviction does not currently make someone ineligible for gun ownership. As part of #DisarmHate Week, Americans across the country are urging Congress to pass the Disarm Hate Act, introduced last week, which bar people convicted of violent hate crimes from buying or possessing guns.

More information about guns and hate crimes is available here. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with further questions or to request an interview.

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