Sen. John Cornyn has had some interesting notions, but his latest move -- a law to ban "murderabilia," aka the move to ban the sale of artwork, letters or any other stuff that is valuable because of an association with a mass murderer/serial killer/someone-who-committed-any-other-heinous-crime -- just seems like a good idea.
Cornyn pitched the legislation blocking the sale of this stuff on Friday after the news came out of the online offering of a letter written by convicted Fort Hood mass shooter Nidal Hassan, according to the Austin American-Statesman. He tried to get a law passed on the whole murderabilia thing back in 2010, but the legislation failed.
While most of the states currently have laws on the books about this issue -- starting in New York with legislation designed to block Son of Sam serial killer David Berkowitz from making money off of a book deal -- this would be the first federal law actually banning the sale of items like Hasan's letter, if the legislation gains any traction. Current federal law, passed back in 1984, requires that any proceeds made by selling a criminal's story be forfeited.
Texas passed a law similar to the Son of Sam law in 1979, but repealed it in 1993, though prosecutors have effectively gagged any would-be criminal moneymakers by placing stipulations about selling stuff in their convictions, the Statesman reports.
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The "Stop the Sale of Murderabilia Act" will make it so that convicted criminals can't mail out items to be sold, or find a way to trade in on their crimes so that someone else profits, skirting the 1984 law. It'll be interesting to see where this goes, but many similar state laws, including the Son of Sam legislation, have been overturned in recent years because of First Amendment rights. So this may be a tilting-at-windmills setup where the law gets overturned as quickly as it gets put in place, but maybe not.