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Should animal abusers lose their FOID cards?

Tuesday, Nov 28, 2017

* Jaclyn Driscoll with Illinois Public Radio

Under federal and state law, anyone convicted of domestic violence loses their right to legally own a gun, but there’s a push to also see that penalty extended to anyone convicted of animal abuse.

The Illinois State Crime Commission is behind the proposal. They say it would be an irrevocable, lifetime penalty for all offenders who would lose their ability to receive a Firearm Owner Identification card, eliminating their ability to purchase or own a gun in Illinois.

Jerry Elsner, executive director for the commission, is urging lawmakers to go along. He says people who injure animals, regardless of age, don’t deserve a second chance. “An animal abuser is similar to a pedophile. There really is not cure for it. It just gets worse. They pose a risk to our society.”

Some studies suggest that cruelty to animals is a precursor to other violent crime, specifically involving people. Elsner cited the Sutherland Springs Texas shooter who claimed to buy animals online to use as “target practice” before his shooting rampage that killed 26 churchgoers.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 11:39 am:

    Some people would argue hunting is animal abuse.

  2. - 360 Degree TurnAround - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 11:39 am:

    Isn’t hunting a form of animal abuse?

  3. - Perrid - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 11:41 am:

    Neglect is often lumped in with abuse, which might be unreasonable. If you intentionally torture or kill an animal I do think that says something about your lack of morality, and thus is evidence that you can not be trusted with more power, and so it would be dangerous for you to own a gun. I’m cool with the idea, but then again I’d be pretty cool if everyone voluntarily turned in all their guns tomorrow…

  4. - Speaking truth - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 11:52 am:

    “An animal abuser is similar to a pedophile.”

    What?…. No seriously, what?

    What a degrading statement. Animals are not humans, and they should never be given a higher or equal value. Let’s not degrade human life with absurd statements like that.

    And just to be clear that I’m not throwing out the baby with the bathwater, animal abuse is repulsive and should be dealt with as such. But it is not on the same level as child abuse and molestation.

  5. - DuPage Saint - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 11:54 am:

    It would be instructive to know how many people a year in Illinois are convicted of animal abuse and also of those people so convicted how many would already be barred from receiving a foid card because of other reasons

  6. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 11:55 am:

    I say this as one of the biggest dog lovers of all time - No.

    Domestic abusers lose their firearms privileges because they’ve proven themselves to be violent towards their families and/or partners. It’s reasonable to say that such a person is a heightened risk for gun violence.

    The same does not hold for someone who neglects/abuses an animal. Maybe take away their ability to own animals?

  7. - FormerParatrooper - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 11:56 am:

    People who abuse animals with the intent of being cruel do not deserve to live in society. Not only should they be restricted from having a FOID, they should not be allowed to have a driver’s license, to vote or to enjoy the other rights and privileges of our social contract.

    Hunting is not animal abuse, unless you kill an animal, remove the head for a mount and leave the body or just shoot game and non game animals and leave the bodies. People who do that are cruel and deserve the same fate.

  8. - Neveranonymous - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 11:58 am:

    Neglecting an animal may not be the same as abuse but it probably has bad implications for gun ownership. It suggests a certain degree of irresponsiblility, and we don’t need any more irresponsible gun owners either.

  9. - Cubs in '16 - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 11:59 am:

    @Speaking truth

    Respectfully, I don’t think animal abuse was being equated to pedophilia. His point is there’s no ‘cure’ for perpetrators of either offenses.

  10. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 12:00 pm:

    = “An animal abuser is similar to a pedophile.=

    No, it isn’t similar.

    I love animals, I have owned them my entire life. My dogs have always been members of the family but I also know animals are not people.

    If the crime was gun related the idea would make some sense. Otherwise no. Totally opposed.

  11. - Perrid - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 12:00 pm:

    @ Speaking Truth, “… and they should never be given a higher or equal value.”
    That’s your opinion, not an objective fact, so cool your outrage a little. Just because it is easier for you to empathize with beings that are similar to you does not mean that similarity imparts some objective value to them. Not sure why you feel the need to make it a competition anyways, especially since the comparison was not even meant to say the actions are on the same level damage wise, just that the people who do either are very likely to repeat their crime.

  12. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 12:02 pm:

    The Sutherland Springs shooter should never have been able to have a gun, much less guns. As to which came first in his life, animal or domestic abuse, I don’t know if that has been established. Perhaps the FOID registration should also include questions about convictions for animal abuse and/or neglect. There are connections showing that people who abuse animals can make that next step to humans. Read through these postings and think about which of these people you would or would not want to have a legal right to a gun. Also, consider the circumstances, and what we as a society could do together to make sure the path to abuse never starts. Something to keep in mind when “Waste, Fraud, and Abuse” are thrown around in budget talks (local, state, or federal).

  13. - cdog - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 12:04 pm:

    Don’t we still have many uncollected firearms from people that have lost their firearm rights?

    I do agree with this sentiment, but animal abuse is hard to define, except for the most obvious cases with domestic animals.

    (It is argued in this link that anyone the eats “factory produced meat” is participating in inflicting suffering on animals, considered equal to marginal cases of humans.)

    If you’re interested in that sort of thing…

  14. - lobo - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 12:05 pm:

    “An animal abuser is similar to a pedophile”


  15. - Blue dog dem - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 12:18 pm:

    How many gun crimes are committed in a year by Illinois FOID card holders?

  16. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 12:22 pm:

    No. This would open another front in the neighbor wars and an opportunity for people who oppose guns to bring animal abuse charges.

  17. - cdog - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 12:39 pm:

    “An animal abuser is similar to a pedophile”

    Absolutely yes.

    Pedos and animal abusers are both moral agents (who know better) inflicting suffering on a moral patient that has no agency.

    I think a child and an animal are similar because neither can really be a moral agent, and can only be considered a moral patient.

    From the Norcross paper, above — “If a being is incapable of moral reasoning, at even the most basic level, if it is incapable of being moved by moral reasons, claims, or arguments, then it cannot be a moral agent.”

    This would include children, impaired/marginal case humans, and animals.

    “That animals can’t be moral agents doesn’t seem to be
    relevant to their status as moral patients. Many, perhaps most, humans are both moral agents and patients. Most, perhaps all, animals are only moral patients. Why would the lack of moral agency give them diminished status as moral patients?”

    Take the guns from the pedos and the animal abusers, but really follow through and collect them.

  18. - Amalia - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 12:41 pm:

    It is a particularly cruel form of violence. yes, keep them from guns. special note to watch animal abuse in young people.

  19. - Juvenal - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 12:52 pm:

    There is an undeniable correlation between animal abuse, child abuse and spousal abuse.

    State law currently requires animal welfare investigators to notify child welfare investigators if there is a child in the home, and visa versa.

    The key features in all three crimes are a lack of empathy, lack of self control and proclivity for violence.

    These seem like a basis to deny someone a firearm.

  20. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 1:02 pm:

    You can abuse an animal and still be a decent person….said no one ever.

  21. - illini - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 1:17 pm:

    As someone who had a 4 legged family member shot by a “crazy” neighbor my answer is Absolutely Yes.

    Of course, he denied it and was never charged by our local Sheriffs Department. I did not witness it and it was my word against his but he had connections.

  22. - Sillinois - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 1:40 pm:

    No, someone should not be stripped of their constitutional rights over something as subjective as animal abuse. If they are convicted of a felony, they will lose their FOID card. We are still innocent until proven guilty in this country, regardless of the outrage of the day.

  23. - Downstate43 - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 1:56 pm:

    == - Blue dog dem - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 12:18 pm: How many gun crimes are committed in a year by Illinois FOID card holders? ==

    Now that is a statistic I would very much like to see, especially as a percent of all gun crime in IL.

    Pardon the pun, but this is dog-whistle politics 101 - just appealing to feelings. Show me a correlation, at least. “Some studies” is the weakest copout.

  24. - fed up - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 2:13 pm:

    Yes - google “NIH, animal cruelty, antisocial personality disorder” to see the data on why. If you abuse an animal you clearly are a higher risk to also abuse humans. You need to not have a gun.

  25. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 3:02 pm:

    Yes. Absolutely. Cruelty to animals indicates at the very least a mental illness and, as others have said, is often a precursor to violence to persons.

  26. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 3:27 pm:

    Make it a felony and it would be

  27. - logic not emotion - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 3:39 pm:

    No. Not the same. Bad legislation.

    Show me a well defined and universally accepted definition of animal abuse and then we can talk.

  28. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 4:42 pm:

    Lets be careful about stripping fundamental rights away so quickly. And forever? Why not apply this standard to the rest of the Bill of Rights?

  29. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Nov 28, 17 @ 6:29 pm:

    Cruelty to animals of the sort that would disqualify one from gun ownership is probably enough to be put on the ban list for mental health history. We need to fix that area of the database to actually put people on it, but I’m not certain that means we need a specific process for animal abuse.

  30. - Animal Lobbyist - Wednesday, Nov 29, 17 @ 8:16 am:

    While I completely agree and support the correlation between animal cruelty as a precursor to more violent crimes towards humans down the road, I’m a bit confused. Illinois law already has felony penalties for cruelty, neglect, fighting, abandonment, and even sexual assault. If somebody is convicted of these offenses then they would already have their FOID revoked or wouldn’t be able to apply for FOID at all. What kinds of offenses is the Commission wanting to cover then? Misdemeanors?

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