On Sunday November 18, 2012 a camera drone, being used by animal protection organization Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) to document animal cruelty at Wing Pointe live pigeon shoot was shot at and disabled. (Click here for footage of the incident.) Apparently, upon reading the news coverage of this event, Virginia State Senator, Frank M. Ruff was "inspired" to create Senate Bill 954, which seeks to criminalize the use of camera drones to film hunters and trappers. Violators would be charged with a misdemeanor offense punishable by a fine up to $500.
The bill, which is clearly an attempt to cover up illegal activity, is akin to the gag bills being introduced in various states, which criminalizes filming undercover at factory farms and slaughterhouses. These investigations carried out by animal rights groups have been highly successful at bringing about prosecutions for animal cruelty and so one has to wonder why so many Republican State Senators in particular have felt moved to ban them.
Perhaps not so surprisingly, VA Senator Ruff is a member of the NRA who has been actively opposed to any attempts at banning live pigeon shoots. The NRA have also made political contributions to the local DAs in Pennsylvania who have shot down any attempt at prosecuting animal cruelty cases stemming from evidence filmed at places like Wing Pointe.
In their rush to cover up horrific cases of animal abuse, which is not just sad but incredibly misguided, these bills seek to cover up illegal activity and squash any freedom of speech rights we think we have. One concern seems to be the infringement of privacy, however when the activity concerned involves criminal and cruel actions then privacy becomes a non-issue. Criminal cruelty does not become justified once done in privacy.
If we have no way of uncovering and documenting criminal actions and we cannot trust law enforcement not to be influenced by groups like the NRA, then where does that leave us? It is very disconcerting that state senators are fast-tracking Senate bills designed to protect people, organizations and companies that commit such atrocities and are not seeking to enact laws that would make the world a better place for all. We have to ask ourselves why are these gag laws being passed? Why are our states senators creating bills that stifle free speech? In whose interest is it to cover up illegal activity? It is not a right to abuse animals or pollute the environment just because you are doing so on private property or behind the closed doors of a private company.
For more information on live pigeon shoots please click here.