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Thread: GOUtah! alert #283--animal felony bills up for committee hearing tomorrow

  1. #1
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    The latest from GOUtah!

    I have yet to have anyone be able to provide any examples of those mistreating animals going out and reoffending because the punishment available under current law is too light to deter reoffense on the part of those who mistreat animals.

    We may well have a problem with prosecutors and judges not using their discretion wisely, plea bargaining down when they shouldn't, or imposing too light of sentences under current law. But if that is the case, giving those same prosecutors and judges the big hammer of a felony charge is exactly the WRONG thing to do.

    Please make calls to oppose these bills.

    Charles

    Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2008 14:54:36
    To:GOUtah! Yahoo! <goutah@yahoogroups.com>
    Subject: GOUtah! Alert #283


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    GOUtah! Alert #283 – 7 February 2008


    Today’s Maxim of Liberty:

    "The supposed quietude of a good mans allures the ruffian; while on
    the other hand, arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and
    the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as
    property. The same balance would be preserved were all the world
    destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not,
    others dare not lay them aside...Horrid mischief would ensue were one
    half the world deprived of the use of them..."

    -- Thomas Paine


    “ANIMAL TORTURE” BILLS COMING UP TOMORROW

    SB 102 and SB 177 will be heard Friday morning, Feb. 8, at 8:00 a.m.
    in room W130 of the West Office Building behind the State Capitol, by
    the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice Committee.

    SB 102 (sponsored by Sen. Gene Davis) would make it a 3rd-degree
    felony to “torture” an animal. This is a back-door gun-control bill
    because:

    (a) ANY felony conviction automatically and permanently deprives you
    of your right to own a gun, and
    (b) The term “torture” appears to be broadly and vaguely defined in
    this bill, leaving it initially up to local prosecutors to decide
    what constitutes “animal torture” when deciding whether to bring a
    felony charge against, say, a farmer who shoots a feral animal and
    ends up only wounding rather than killing it with the first shot. We
    can quite easily envision such an incident being upheld as “animal
    torture” in court if this bill gets made into law, which in turn
    would set a precedent for future decisions by prosecutors and courts.

    GOUtah! has no problem with the existing laws against cruelty to
    animals, and we believe that if these laws were rigorously enforced
    and if people who deliberately and maliciously did horrible things to
    animals ended up in jail for six months or longer (which can happen
    under the current law, though it rarely does), an adequate level of
    justice and deterrence would be established and there would be few if
    any repeat offenders.

    However, the animal-rights activists have long wanted to felonize the
    mistreatment of animals and are now using one or two recent high-
    profile cases of severe cruelty to push their agenda.

    Our problem with SB 102 is that felony-level “animal torture” is so
    broadly and vaguely defined in the bill that a farmer who shoots a
    feral dog or cat and wounds it with the first shot instead of killing
    it instantly could be faced with a felony charge, especially if he
    lives in the rural portion of one of Utah’s mixed rural-urban
    counties where the local district attorney’s office is likely to be
    staffed by urbanites who detest the whole rural culture and who
    simply can’t stand the idea of an animal being shot under any
    circumstances.

    SB 102 exempts wildlife (including endangered species), rodeo
    animals, livestock, zoo animals, animals used in medical research,
    etc. We speculate that the bill’s backers know that their definition
    of “torture” is so vague and so broad that it could be used to shut
    down hunting, fishing, rodeos, farms, ranches, medical research labs,
    etc., which would generate enormous opposition to the bill. So they
    exempted these kinds of animals from the bill in order to avoid such
    opposition. But this doesn’t do much good for those of us who, for
    example, live just outside the fringes of suburbia, where city-
    dwellers often abandon unwanted pets, which then become feral and
    reproduce.

    If you’re a farmer living in a rural section of Summit
    County, for example, and there’s an abandoned dog roaming the area
    that has turned feral and that’s harassing your chickens or your own
    pets, and you call animal control, they’ll probably tell you to catch
    the dog and confine it and then maybe they’ll come out within a day
    or two to retrieve it. You realize that this is either impossible or
    impractical, so you shoot the dog but you wound it instead of killing
    it, and it runs off and dies slowly and eventually ends up dead in
    your neighbor’s driveway. The neighbor, a former urbanite who hates
    guns, calls the cops.

    You get arrested on an animal-cruelty charge.
    The district attorney turns out to be a Los Angeles native who now
    lives in Park City and who hates hunters, ranchers, shooters, and
    other rural types. He looks closely at the new law and decides that
    he can charge you with a felony because you inflicted pain and
    suffering on the dog. You end up having to spend $10,000 to hire an
    attorney to defend against this felony charge. The jury ends up
    being stacked with anti-gun anti-hunting Park City residents who are
    former urbanites (not an unrealistic scenario, given that most of
    Summit County’s population now consists of former urbanites living in
    the Park City area).

    Best-case scenario: you get acquitted but you
    still owe your attorney $10,000 (as opposed to $1,500 for a typical
    misdemeanor defense). Worst-case scenario: you get convicted and,
    regardless of the sentence handed down by the judge, you
    automatically lose the right to own a gun or to even hold a gun in
    your hands for the rest of your life. And you still owe your
    attorney $10,000. After that, if you so much as go target shooting
    with a .22 rifle and someone turns you in, you’re looking at a MAJOR
    federal felony charge for being “a felon in possession of a firearm”
    and, quite probably, a stay in federal prison.

    Again, the whole issue for us is that we don’t want to see any new
    laws passed that could enable the authorities to automatically and
    permanently strip a person of his gun rights for a relatively minor
    act. In our opinion, SB 102 falls in this category. Felony status
    should be reserved for heinous crimes against people, in our view.

    SB 117 (sponsored by Sen. Allen Christensen) is a somewhat lighter
    version of SB 102, in that it creates a felony for “animal torture”
    only upon a second conviction that occurs any time within 5 years of
    a first conviction, with the first conviction being a misdemeanor.
    While this bill would not be as bad as SB 102, it still has
    problems. If it passes, the animal-rights activists are likely to
    work to get the 5-year statute of limitations extended to 10 years,
    or removed completely, which would essentially turn SB 117 into the
    equivalent of SB 102.

    Ironically, while our hypothetical Utah farmer could be prosecuted on
    felony charges under SB 102 for shooting a feral dog, a psychopath
    who captures a bald eagle and slowly tortures it to death would only
    be guilty of a misdemeanor under this same bill.


    ACTION ITEM

    SB 102 and SB 177 will be heard Friday morning, Feb. 8, at 8:00 a.m.
    in room W130 of the West Office Building behind the State Capitol, by
    the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement, and Criminal Justice
    Committee. We encourage you to contact one or more of the following
    committee members and encourage them to oppose SB 102 and SB 117. If
    you happen to live in the district of one of these senators, please
    mention this fact when contacting him. Also, if you can attend the
    hearing and speak against these bills, even if it's just a 30-second
    statement that you oppose the bill, this would help a lot.

    Sen. Greg Bell e-mail: gbell@utahsenate.org cell: (801)971-2001
    Sen. John Valentine e-mail: jvalentine@utahsenate.org home: (801)
    224-1693
    Sen. Jon Greiner e-mail: jgreiner@utahsenate.org home: (801)621-0423

    Alternatively, you may send a letter or fax to any of these senators
    at the Capitol, or you may leave a brief message at the Capitol
    switchboard. Capitol Hill contact info is provided below.

    Utah State Senate
    320 State Capitol
    P.O. Box 145115
    Salt Lake City, Utah 84114
    Phone: 801-538-1035
    Fax for Republican senators: 801-326-1475
    Fax for Democratic senators: 801-326-1476

    __________________________________________
    That concludes GOUtah! Alert #283 – 7 February 2008.
    Copyright 2008 by GOUtah!. All rights reserved.



    PRE-WRITTEN LETTER BELOW


    ----- Cut here ------


    Date:

    From:



    To:




    Dear________________________:

    I encourage you to oppose SB 102 and SB 117, the “animal torture”
    bills. These bills serve as back-door gun-control legislation, due
    to the felony clauses they contain.

    Under federal law, any felony conviction results in the automatic and
    permanent revocation of the convicted person’s right to possess a
    firearm, no matter how minor his criminal act might have been. While
    this may be appropriate for murder, rape, robbery, and other heinous
    violent crimes against people, I’m concerned that the definition of
    “animal torture” in SB 102 and SB 117 is so broad and vague that it
    could result in felony prosecutions for relatively minor acts, such
    as a rural Utahn shooting a feral dog or cat and wounding it with the
    first shot – especially if the local district attorney is an urbanite
    who hates guns and shooting and other rural activities. This
    scenario can easily be envisioned in many of Utah’s mixed rural-urban
    counties such as Summit County, Utah County, Weber County, etc.

    I have no problem with the existing misdemeanor laws against cruelty
    to animals, and I believe that if these laws were more vigorously
    enforced, with violators serving 6 months of actual jail time, they
    would provide an effective deterrent and there would be few if any
    repeat offenders.

    Thanks for taking time to consider my opinion on this matter.


    Sincerely,






    ------- Cut here -------





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    All experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. Thank heaven we do not permit a few to impose anarchy.

    "With Anarchy as an aim and as a means, Communism becomes possible."
    --Marxist.org

    "Communism and Anarchy [are], a necessary complement to one another. "
    --PETER KROPOTKIN, "Anarchism: its philosophy and ideal." 1898.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for the alert; I'll send some e-mails later today.

    utbagpiper wrote:
    Today’s Maxim of Liberty:

    "The supposed quietude of a good mans allures the ruffian; while on
    the other hand, arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and
    the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as
    property. The same balance would be preserved were all the world
    destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not,
    others dare not lay them aside...Horrid mischief would ensue were one
    half the world deprived of the use of them..."

    -- Thomas Paine
    Off the immediate topic, but of interest to me and perhaps others, I find myself having to disagree with Thomas Paine: the balance would not be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, particularly when the word is used to refer to firearms.

    There's a lot of truth in the old saw "God made men. Sam Colt made 'em equal." A gun and a little bit of practice makes an 80 year-old, 90-pound woman equal to a 20 year-old, 250-pound man. Without firearms, the wide variation in physical capacity means that there is no balance.

    People who think that disarming everyone -- if it could be done -- would make us safer are simply wrong. You can't eliminate violence by removing the tools of violence, because violence does not require tools.

    I don't think Paine actually meant to say that; his point was that disarming just some of the people was a bad idea. I run across plenty of people who think the world would be a better place if they could snap their fingers and make all weapons disappear, though.

  3. #3
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    umm... is UTbagpiper pro animal cruelty...?

  4. #4
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    b1ack5mith wrote:
    umm... is UTbagpiper pro animal cruelty...?
    Are you serious?

    Of course not. We have laws againtst animal cruelty.

    I am opposed to denying basic rights, like RKBA, over a one-time, relatively minor crime.

    Do YOU support Lautenberg? And if not, shall we ask if you are pro-spousal-abuse?

    Do you want ANYONE you take to dinner a couple of times to be in an easy position to deny you your RKBA with too easy to obtain protective orders? We're opposing Litvack's dating violence bill NOT because we are not opposed to dating violence, but because Litvack has not included adequate protections of RKBA in drafting his bill.

    While GOUtah! takes no position on the following, I will also personally add that I very much enjoy some meat, poultry, and dairy in my diet and happily accept ALL that is involved in raising and slaughtering animals.

    I like leather and have no issue with fur.

    I'm very much in favor of medical research and practice.

    And I've been known to enjoy a good rodeo.

    ALL of these ARE considered cruel or even torture by some of the animal rights extremists.

    I'm VERY much opposed to leaving dogs outside barking for hours on end or allowing cats to roam free in an urban / suburban environment. For some reason, a lot of self-proclaimed dog and cat lovers see no problem with these behaviours.

    All experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. Thank heaven we do not permit a few to impose anarchy.

    "With Anarchy as an aim and as a means, Communism becomes possible."
    --Marxist.org

    "Communism and Anarchy [are], a necessary complement to one another. "
    --PETER KROPOTKIN, "Anarchism: its philosophy and ideal." 1898.

  5. #5
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    I am just worried that when I eat a hamburger or steak I will be charged with a felony and have my gun taken from me.

  6. #6
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    xmirage2kx wrote:
    I am just worried that when I eat a hamburger or steak I will be charged with a felony and have my gun taken from me.
    All joking aside, this is the essence of GOUtah's! concern with and opposition to several bills this year that elevate various crimes to felony status.

    There are very few overtly anti-gun bills being introduced in Utah these days. Instead, the local attacks on our rights come in two forms:

    1-Misapplication or ignoring of current law ala UoU and UVSC trying to prohibit OC with a permit;

    2-Felony creep whereby relatively minor crimes get elevated to felony status (or domestic violence misdemeanor status) and thus carry a lifetime ban on RKBA. Mental health laws are of similar concern, but are currently far less common.

    As GOUtah! assesses proposed felonies we impose a two part test on whether to oppose the bill:

    1-Is the crime being elevated to felony status truly serious enough in terms of either property damage/loss or personal injury to warrant being a felony; and

    2-Is the law crafted with careful and tight enough defnitions so as to avoid allowing overly zealous prosecutors to charge otherwise minor acts as felonies.

    These are both subjective measures. And some folks will disagree our assessment on any given bill. But at least it is a place to start to rationall consider how to respond to various bills.

    For example, there is a bill this year to make child abandonment a felony. In our estimation it passes both tests above and so we take no position on the bill (we do not oppose it). Ditto for a bill to make strangulation a felony.

    On the flip side, while the dating violence bill probably passes the first test, it fails the second test and so we must oppose it.

    The animal torture bills certainly fail the second test, and in my estimation fail the first test as well, especially if one looks at a list of crimes against persons--including negligent homicide and various sex crimes--that are Class A misdemeanors. Plus, we have the strong link between guns and hunting that while not part of our formal test above cannot be ignored. So we oppose the animal torture bills, though SB 102 that makes animal torture a felony on the first offense is of greater practical concern (based on test #2) than is SB 117.

    We are also oppoed to elevating simple "assault" on a police officer to felony status. "Assault" is simply too broad a term and too easy to apply to fairly minor acts.

    There is a definate trend from both the "law-and-order" right (traditionally pro-RKBA) and the anti-gun left to make everything a felony. Should that ever happen, all other laws presuming to protect our RKBA will be of little value. Sooner or later most of us are bound to make minor mistakes. Such minor errors should NOT result in lifetime loss of RKBA.

    Charles
    All experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. Thank heaven we do not permit a few to impose anarchy.

    "With Anarchy as an aim and as a means, Communism becomes possible."
    --Marxist.org

    "Communism and Anarchy [are], a necessary complement to one another. "
    --PETER KROPOTKIN, "Anarchism: its philosophy and ideal." 1898.

  7. #7
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    i misunderstood your first post (im very sick with the flu right now so ill be missing alot of stuff) i love leather, i love cheeseburgers, im ok with slaughtering animals in a humane and not too painful manner

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    Most of the laws that are trying to be passed are scary these days. Either bill makers will tack on bad parts to good bills or highlight the one or 2 good parts of a very bad bill to try to get it to pass. Many of us are old enough to remember when seatbelts were not mandatory, then a law passes making it a 2nd ticket (couldn’t get stopped for it, but if you were stopped you could get a ticket) and promised it would never be something people got stopped for. Now "Click-it or Ticket" and most other laws will take this same path. Give an inch and you will lose a mile.

  9. #9
    State Researcher Kevin Jensen's Avatar
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    A man just recently lost his gun rights, for abusing a dog with an air soft gun.

    http://www.abc4.com/content/news/sta...6ZpYYr1dA.cspx
    "An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life." Robert A. Heinlein

  10. #10
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    From reading your linked report I don't know that I disagree with the judge either!
    RIGHTS don't exist without RESPONSIBILITY!
    If one is not willing to stand for his rights, he doesn't have any Rights.
    I will strive to stand for the rights of ANY person, even those folks with whom I disagree!
    As said by SVG--- "I am not anti-COP, I am PRO-Citizen" and I'll add, PRO-Constitution.
    If the above makes me a RADICAL or EXTREME--- So be it!

    Life Member NRA
    Life Member GOA
    2nd amendment says.... "...The right of the people to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED!"

  11. #11
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    I personally think that a felony is a little over the top for even killing an animal. Our jails are full as they are, I say make the Bad Guy pay a big fine and mandatory community service in a Animal shelter cleaning the crap up after hours!

    Could you just think of working in those loud barking concrete buildings with dogsfor 8 hours every Saturday for 5 years? Some guys will ask for the prison time I am sure!



    Utah Certified Concealed Firearms Permit Instructor
    NRA Pistol Instructor & RSO

    Lover of Freedom

  12. #12
    Regular Member Rottie's Avatar
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    I am an avid hunter and have shot my fare share of game. However none of it was done for the sheer pleasure of causing or inflicting pain or discomfort to an animal. In fact I never take a shot that I am not absolutely sure will result in the least amount of suffering. I cannot imagine what this idiot was thinking. I can't say that I blame the judge, and I am completely unsympathetic to this man. I do however see the slippery slope this all can lead to. It is time to renew an advocacy for firearms safety. Airsoft guns are not toys. I was shot by a neighbors 16 year old son with an airsoft gun who thought he was playing a joke. It broke the skin but did not permanently penetrate. Needles to say we had a conversation about gun safety. Too bad it didn't stick. I saw him on Saturday with a chipped tooth from where a plastic BB hit him in the mouth. Like the man in the story, I didn't feel sorry for my neighbor kid either.

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