Photo by Don Shin on Unsplash

From Combating Hate To Gun Tracing: A Status Check Of Crime-Related Bills In 2021

September 2, 2021

By a Biometrica staffer

In March, Biometrica did a round-up of some of the key crime, prison, and law enforcement bills with most support in the House in 2021 up to that point. Today, we pick a few crime-related bills in the House and tell you where each one stands as of today, Sept. 2, and also give you an update on a few that we had covered in March. Several pieces of legislation being discussed and debated on the House floor deal with one major focus area: hate crimes.

It was only Tuesday, Aug. 31 that we wrote about how hate crime reports soared to their highest level in over a decade in 2020, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) 2020 Hate Crime Statistics data. In total, there were 7,759 hate crime incidents reported in 2020, a more than 6% increase from 2019 and the highest number of such incidents recorded since 2008. It’s no wonder then, perhaps, that most of the crime-related bills with the House currently focus on combating the spike in this kind of crime.

But there are other interesting pieces of legislation, too, including those that deal with modernizing gun tracing by creating a database, and addressing the illegal purchase and possession of firearms.

All bill numbers are per the 117th session of Congress (2021–2022).

H.R.983 — Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act Of 2021

The bill in brief: It seeks to establish a new criminal offense for knowingly executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud an individual of veterans’ benefits, or in connection with obtaining veterans’ benefits for an individual. A violator is subject to criminal penalties — a fine, a prison term of up to five years, or both.

It was introduced in the house on Feb. 11 and was passed/agreed to in the House on June 22. The bill has three co-sponsors so far.

The long title of this act is “to amend title 18, United States Code, to provide an additional tool to prevent certain frauds against veterans, and for other purposes.”

You can find the full text of the act here.

H.R.1652 — VOCA Fix To Sustain Crime Victims Fund Act Of 2021

The bill in brief: It adds a new source of revenue for the Crime Victims Fund and makes changes to formula grants supported by the fund. It also increases the percentage of state compensation payments to crime victims in the prior fiscal year used to calculate formula grants for state victim compensation programs.

This is the only bill featured in our piece today that’s actually become law. It was introduced in the House on March 8, and ended up with 38 co-sponsors. It was passed in the House on March 17 and the Senate on July 20, and was signed by the President into public law on July 22.

The long title of this bill is “to deposit certain funds into the Crime Victims Fund, to waive matching requirements, and for other purposes.”

You can find the full text of the act here.

H.R.1642 — Prosecuting Gun Crimes Saves Lives Act

The bill in brief: It establishes requirements and authorities for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to take certain actions to address the illegal purchase and possession of firearms, including by authorizing grants and establishing task forces to increase investigations and prosecutions of relevant offenses.

There hasn’t been any action on this bill, though, since it was introduced in the House on March 8, and it has one co-sponsor.

The long title of the bill is “to direct the Attorney General to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of Federal firearms offenses, and for other purposes.”

You can find the full text of the act here.

H.R.3536 — Crime Gun Tracing Modernization Act of 2021

The bill in brief: It requires the National Tracing Center within the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to establish and maintain an electronic, searchable database of records related to certain firearms transactions.

There’s not been much action on this bill, either, since it was introduced in the House on May 25, and it has one cosponsor.

The long title of the bill is “to amend section 923 of title 18, United States Code, to require an electronic, searchable database of the importation, production, shipment, receipt, sale, or other disposition of firearms.”

You can find the full text of the act here.

H.R.3088 — Untraceable Firearms Act Of 2021

The bill in brief: To amend chapter 44 of title 18, the United States Code, to ensure that all firearms are traceable, and for other purposes.

This bill was introduced in the House on May 11 and has 94 co-sponsors. A version of this bill has been introduced in the Senate, too.

You can find the full text of the act here.

Anti-Hate Crime Bills

H.R.3515 — Preventing Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes Act

The bill in brief: It aims at facilitating the expedited review of anti-Semitic hate crimes, and for other purposes.

It was introduced in the House on May 25 and has 71 co-sponsors. A version of this bill has been introduced in the Senate, too.

In June, Biometrica wrote about the worrying resurgence of anti-Semitism in the United States, after two synagogues were vandalized in a span of three weeks.

You can find the full text of the act here.

H.R.2541 — Hate Crime Victim Assistance Act of 2021

The bill in brief: It seeks to amend the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 3711) to establish grants to reduce the incidence of hate crimes, and for other purposes.

It was introduced in the House on April 14 and has nine co-sponsors so far.

You can find the full text of the act here.

H.R.2539 — Education Against Hate Crimes Act of 2021

The bill in brief: It requires the Department of Education (ED) to award competitive grants to states, local educational agencies, and nonprofit organizations to conduct hate crime prevention and prejudice reduction education for secondary school students and students in middle grades. It also requires the ED, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security, and the DOJ, to develop relevant curriculum requirements.

It was introduced in the House on April 14 and has eight co-sponsors.

The long title of the bill is “to direct the Secretary of Education to make grants for hate crime prevention and prejudice reduction education, and for other purposes.”

You can find the full text of the act here.

H.R.1834 — Hate Crimes Commission Act of 2021

The bill in brief: It establishes the United States Commission on Hate Crimes. The commission must investigate and report on:

  • whether hate crimes have increased
  • factors that contributed to an increase in hate crimes, if one is determined to exist
  • policies or actions by law enforcement agencies to reduce the commission of hate crimes
  • the impact of underreporting on hate crimes statistics and prevention
  • successful community bias prevention responses

It was introduced in the House on March 11 and has 153 co-sponsors. A version of this bill has also been introduced in the Senate.

You can find the full text of the act here.

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