Animal Shelter to the NRA and Haters of Gun Restriction: No Animals for You

If you want to adopt a dog or cat from this Southern California animal shelter, you must be 25 years old, demonstrate that you can provide a good home for a pet, and meet gun restrictions.

Membership in the NRA is a deciding factor, said Kim Sill, owner of Shelter Hope Pet Shop.

“We do not support those who believe the 2nd Amendment gives them the right to purchase assault weapons,” Sill wrote on a website at the shelter in Thousand Oaks, Calif., about 40 miles northwest. from Los Angeles. “If your beliefs don’t match ours, we won’t adopt a pet for you.”

Kim Sill with Marco at the shelter.Shelter Hope Pet Store

Sill added, “If you lie about being an NRA supporter, make no mistake, we will sue you for fraud.”

Sill, in an interview with NBC News, said many of the donors to her shelter were Republicans and some threatened to cut funds if she didn’t remove the post “Where are you on gun control ?” a question she now asks each potential adoptee to answer during a selection interview.

“I say, okay, keep your money,” she said. “If I go bankrupt, as a result, I go bankrupt. But I have to do something. And that’s the only thing I can do to make people understand that the killings by people with guns must stop.

The National Rifle Association weighed in later Thursday.

“Having this stupid political litmus test comes at the expense of needy, homeless dogs and cats,” NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter said.

Imogen Jones, right, plays with a dog at Shelter Hope Pet Shop in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Imogen Jones, right, plays with a dog at Shelter Hope Pet Shop in Thousand Oaks, Calif.Shelter Hope Pet Store

Northwestern University constitutional law expert Nadav Shoked said in an email that the law appears to be on Sill’s side.

“Federal law is not an issue here,” Shoked said. “It doesn’t apply to stores and, more importantly, it only prohibits discrimination based on race or religion – which is not what the pet store does.”

As for state laws, Shoked said, they “often add to race and religion elements such as sex, gender identity, family status, marital status, being an elder fighter, etc.”, but not political preferences.

“There could also be a specific law or ordinance regarding pet stores or pet adoption practices (the motivation would be animal cruelty concerns), but that would be a very specific issue for that type. business,” he added.

Emily Berman, a constitutional law professor at the University of Houston Law Center, said federal law does not protect Americans from discrimination “on the basis of owning guns or supporting gun rights.” .

“However, nothing theoretically prevents states and localities from imposing these kinds of rules,” Berman said. “Just as a state can prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, it could also do so on the basis of an individual’s opinion about firearms.”

Sill said she put the new rule into effect on May 31 after the Texas elementary school massacre in Uvalde that left 19 students and two teachers dead and sparked another anguished national debate over the restrictions. to firearms.

“It was a turning point for me,” she said. “But there was another reason.”

Four years ago, Sill said, an ex-Marine opened fire at a local watering hole called the Borderline Bar and Grill, killing a dozen people before killing himself.

Three months earlier, Sill said, the shooter had come to his safehouse to perform community service for a previous arrest.

“When he came in, one of the other volunteers noticed he was wearing flip flops and told me,” she said. “When I told him he really should wear something like sports shoes, he got really hot with me.”

But because he was a veteran, Sill said she assigned him to “work with Larry, who is a Vietnam veteran.”

“After a day, Larry said we couldn’t work with him, and I had to let him go,” Sill said.

Imogen Jones walks a dog outside the Shelter Hope pet store.
Imogen Jones walks a dog outside the Shelter Hope pet store.Shelter Hope Pet Store

After the massacre, Sill said the FBI and police told him the ex-Marine had identified his shelter as a possible target.

“They advised me to hire security, and for a while I did,” she said. “It was unarmed security, but it was security. Someone standing at the door. The other advice I got from the police was to make an escape plan.

Sill said she almost laughed at them.

“An escape plan?” What I have here are a lot of old people and dozens of dogs and cats,” she said. “How could we escape a gunman who came here to kill us?”

Sill initially said she struggled with guilt after the Borderline Bar and Grill massacre.

“I thought, ‘Maybe I should have warned somebody, said something,'” she said. “He was so rude to me. He clearly had a problem with women. But I didn’t think he would be a mass murderer.

Over time, Sill said, her feelings of guilt turned into a lingering fear that she was unable to shake.

“I found myself looking over my shoulder every time I came to work,” she said. “And after a while I realized that I just couldn’t live like this.”

Then Uvalde arrived.

“It did it for me,” she said. “I had to do something, so I did it.”

Sill said she was moved by advocacy actor Matthew McConaughey, from Uvalde, made in Congress to act on gun legislation. She said the actor’s wife, Camila Alves McConaughey, adopted two dogs from her shelter several years ago when they lived in Malibu.

“I know he’s a gun owner, and when he went to Congress and said we had to do something about it, well, my heart went out to him,” Sill said. “I hope other gun owners do the same. Because it kills us all.

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