Animal abuse is a very serious crime because of its link to crimes against people which is why convicted animal abusers should not have guns.
Seriousness of crimes concerning animals undervalued
Animal cruelty is very serious even if we put to one side for a moment the pain and distress suffered by the animal concerned. Most people by now know that there is evidence which suggests that people who abuse animals are more likely to hurt people. In other words, it is a stepping stone to hurting and killing people.
In my opinion, too, it is often younger people who abuse animals and then develop, when adults, into hurting people. It’s as if it is a learning process and part of an abuser’s development.
There’s a strong argument that people convicted of animal abuse should be banned from having guns. It should be a qualifying factor when purchasing a gun.
Lynne Peeples writing for salon.com reminds us that the perpetrators of some recent mass shootings had a history of animal abuse. It’s a pattern of behaviour which should be addressed and it should be relevant when buying a gun.
Benefits of linking animal abuse with other criminal behavior
In New York City a partnership between the police Department and the ASPCA has resulted in a tripling of arrests for animal abuse in the city since 2014.
If animal abuse cases are investigated properly it can lead to a lessening of criminality concerning child abuse, domestic violence and gun crime.
Felons barred from possessing guns
One problem is that under current federal law felons (criminals convicted of a felony) are barred from having a firearm but a lot of the crimes against animals are misdemeanours. Therefore, a change in the law is required to include misdemeanour animal offences as a criteria for barring a person from possessing a gun.
Apparently, New Jersey has recommended a statewide ban on gun ownership for all convicted animal abusers.
In 2016 the FBI formally began tracking animal abuse crimes because they realised its importance. They are collecting data to reveal patterns. In July the FBI and the US Department of Homeland Security produced a report which concluded that animal abuse was a warning sign for terrorism and other premeditated violence against humans.
Animal abuse = human abuse
Animal abusers are five times more likely to go on to commit crimes of violence against people compared to those not involved in animal abuse beforehand (study published in 1997 by Northeastern University and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
A South African study found that almost 2/3 of aggressive criminals imprisoned in South Africa had inflicted harm on animals in childhood.
Apparently, more states in the US are passing legislation which create stiffer penalties for crimes concerning animals which translates into making them felonies. This in turn results in the offenders being barred from getting guns. For example, in Pennsylvania in 2017 they created legislation which made first-time aggravated animal cruelty offences a felony.
Bearing in mind the continuing debate about lax gun control in America, and also bearing in mind the connection between animal abuse and violence against humans, it is time to bar perpetrators of animal abuse from having a gun.