Boston, MA - Citing research from local organizations such as the MA Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals (MSPCA) and Northeastern University, Katherine Clark – a democratic Massachusetts congresswoman – has proposed a bill that would prevent those convicted of animal cruelty misdemeanors from obtaining firearms.
The proposed legislation was inspired in part by a 1996 congressional movement to ban gun access from those who had been charged with domestic violence misdemeanors. Since a misdemeanor is considered less severe than a felony, the perpetrators are often viewed as less of a threat to society and are therefore still permitted to purchase firearms. Clark, however, asserts that there are certain crimes which do make individuals significantly more likely to endanger society, and yet are still classified as misdemeanors. In 1996, domestic violence was determined by the majority of the US Congress to be such a crime. Now, in 2018, Representative Clark maintains that acts of animal cruelty should be viewed this way, as well.
The main study Rep. Clark has referenced, performed by Northeastern and the MSCPA, demonstrated that those who engage in animal abuse are five times more likely to be perpetrators of violence against other people than those who do not harm animals. She believes that there is enough evidence to support that her proposed “Animal Violence Exposes Real Threat (AVERT) of Future Gun Violence Act” would promote the safety of US citizens. The Melrose resident elaborated in a recent statement:
"From Columbine to Parkland to Sutherland Springs, these perpetrators of mass gun violence had a history of animal abuse, and addressing this pattern of behavior is part of the solution when it comes to preventing gun violence and saving lives."
Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund has come out in support of Rep. Clark’s proposed bill. She asserts that the FBI has a substantial history of tracking mass shooters whose background of violence was directed at animals in their earlier life, before they turned to human-targeted cruelties.
The AVERT Future Gun Violence bill has now been sent to the House for further review.