Anyone convicted of misdemeanor animal cruelty would be prohibited from legally obtaining a firearm if legislation recently introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives is passed.
Introduced June 28 by U.S. Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA), HR 6278, the Animal Violence Exposes Real Threat (AVERT) Future Gun Violence Act of 2018, would amend Title 18 of U.S. Code to prohibit any person convicted of a misdemeanor crime of animal cruelty from possessing or disposing of a firearm.
Current federal law prohibits those convicted of felony animal cruelty crimes from legally obtaining a gun; however, some states prosecute animal cruelty as a misdemeanor. The proposed measure is intended to close that loophole in federal background checks.
“From Columbine to Parkland to Sutherland Springs, these perpetrators of mass gun violence had a history of animal abuse,” Clark said. “Addressing this pattern of behavior is part of the solution when it comes to preventing gun violence and saving lives.”
No one from the National Rifle Association or the 2nd Amendment Foundation was available for comment.
Christian Heyne, legislative director of the Coalition To Stop Gun Violence, praised the bill as a measure to help prevent violent crimes.
“Cruelty toward and abuse of animals is often seen as a warning sign for domestic abuse and other violent behavior,” Heyne said. “The AVERT Future Gun Violence Act of 2018 identifies this warning sign and takes the important step of prohibiting the possession of a gun for someone convicted of animal abuse.”
The legislation has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.