Massachusetts Rep. Katherine M. Clark has proposed legislation that would prevent people convicted of animal cruelty from accessing firearms.
Clark said her bill would close an existing loophole and cited a study from the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Northeastern University linking animal abuse and future violence, MassLive reported.
Clark said the loophole exists because while federal law prohibits people with felony convictions from accessing guns, states often prosecute animal cruelty as a misdemeanor.
“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,” she said.
The study Clark cited found animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violence against people than those who did not abuse animals.
Fellow Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern also signed onto the Animal Violence Exposes Real Threat of Future Gun Violence Act.
T. Christian Heyne, legislative director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, praised the legislation.
“Cruelty toward and abuse of animals is often seen as a warning sign for domestic abuse and other violent behavior,” he said.