The legislation, which the House originally passed in July, would make it illegal to sell or distribute videos violating animal cruelty bans by showing animals being burned, drowned, suffocated or impaled. It makes exceptions for films depicting hunting, trapping and fishing.
Crush videos appeal to sexual fetishists by showing women crushing to death small animals with their bare feet or wearing high heels. Although animal cruelty is banned in every state, it has been difficult to apply those laws to crush videos because they rarely reveal faces, dates or locations.
The House changed some of the wording in the measure from the version approved by the Senate in September. “We need a law that stays on the books,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., explained to the Associated Press.
A Senate provision was removed that made the punishments for attempting or conspiring to make a video the same as the punishments for a completed product. Conyers said the provision could cause constitutional issues.
Last April, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1999 law that would have banned the marketing of videos and images depicting cruelty to animals, saying it was too broadly written and infringed on the First Amendment right to free speech.
The measure now goes back to the Senate. Betsy Dribben, vice president for government relations at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), told the Associated Press she was frustrated by the delay.
“We’re concerned about the animals being killed and we’re also concerned about the social ramifications,” she said.
Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., who crafted the measure, has noted that murderers, including serial killer Ted Bundy and “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, killed animals before killing people.