Menendez, Latino Leaders Reject Hate Crime Against Latinos, Call on Congress to Pass Gun Safety Reform Measures

Menendez, Latino Leaders Reject Hate Crime Against Latinos, Call on Congress to Pass Gun Safety Reform Measures

El Paso attack being treated as domestic terrorism


NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today joined First Lady Tammy Murphy and the New Jersey Latino Coalition of Pastors and Ministers in rejecting the recent hate-driven mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton that resulted in 31 people dead and dozens injured, while also calling on Congress to pass commonsense gun safety reform legislation. Both gunmen used semi-automatic rifles outfitted with large capacity magazines.

“My heart breaks for the all of families that have been torn apart by gun violence, in El Paso, in Dayton, and beyond. Likewise, my heart breaks for Hispanic Americans and immigrants across our country now grappling with the fact that the El Paso shooting was motivated by racial hatred,” said Sen. Menendez. “When I learned that the El Paso shooter posted a racist manifesto online that echoed many of the hateful words spoken by our own President, I sadly wasn’t surprised. President Trump has yet to learn that when you are the leader of the free world, your words matter.”

“The senseless loss of life in El Paso has shaken our country to its core and sparked fear among Latino and Hispanic communities. This evil act of terror was enabled by easy access to deadly assault weapons and fueled by dangerous white supremacist rhetoric,” Sen. Booker said. “We must find the moral courage to end gun violence in America and put a stop to the Trump Administration’s divisive language and policies that are fanning the flames of racism and xenophobia.  It’s time for Washington to take action and pass smarter and stricter gun laws so we can stop these unspeakable tragedies.” 

“We know that no single law can stop every tragedy. Nor can we cure every heart of hatred. But we can pass laws that save lives,” Sen. Menendez went on to say. “We can close loopholes in our background checks system. We can limit access to high-capacity magazines that we know are only designed for high-capacity killing. We can come together and speak out against racism in all its forms. The time for action is now. Every day that goes by is another day until the next mass shooting.” 

Shortly before the gunman in El Paso, which is a majority Latino community, opened fire in a Walmart, he posted an anti-immigrant manifesto online. The 2,300-word document spewed hateful rhetoric including warning of a “Hispanic invasion” and blaming Democrats for open borders. Among the 22 killed in El Paso, eight were Mexican citizens. The Department of Justice announced earlier this week that it is treating the massacre as a case of domestic terrorism. 

New York Times article published this week highlighted how Latinos across the country are feeling threatened, especially after the attack in El Paso. Many of those interviewed suggested that the president’s racist rhetoric is fueling hatred across the nation. 

In recent years, there has been a significant jump in hate crimes across the country, especially towards Hispanics and Latinos, African Americans, Muslims and Jews. In New Jersey, there were 495 hate crimes reported in 2017, which is up from 367 in 2015, according to the FBI.

After this weekend’s mass shootings, Japan, Venezuela and Uruguay issued travel advisories for their citizens in the United States. The countries’ advised their citizens to stay alert because of the recent slew of hate crimes that were terrorizing the nation.

Sen. Menendez has been a leading voice in Congress for sensible gun safety reform.

In June, and as a response to the Virginia Beach mass shooting who killed a dozen innocent people, Sen. Menendez introduced the Help Empower Americans to Respond (HEAR) Act to ban the importation, sale, manufacture, transfer or possession of gun silencers or suppressors.

Earlier this year, Sen. Menendez introduced the Keep Americans Safe Act to ban high-capacity gun magazines that can hold over ten rounds and the Stopping the Traffic in Overseas Proliferation of Ghost Guns Act, which would block the Trump Administration’s efforts to weaken regulations on 3D guns and also cosponsored the Assault Weapons Ban and the Background Check Expansion Act. The senator voted for the original Assault Weapons Ban in 1994 as a member of the House of Representatives.

Sen. Menendez also introduced the 3D Printed Gun Safety Act to prohibit the online distribution of blueprints and instructions that allow for the three dimensional (3D) printing of firearms and has continued to raise attention on social media platforms to stay vigilant on the dissemination of this content.

Sen. Menendez also sponsored legislation that would close the gun show loophole, outlaw “bump stocks” and other devices that make semiautomatic weapons fully automatic, prevent those on the Terror Watch List from purchasing guns, and improve access to mental health and addiction treatment.