Your five year old is outside, on this balmy day, and you decide to hang laundry outside for a change….He seems preoccupied with digging in the ground…so you focus on getting your chore done….

He has found an ant hill, and sticks his stick down into the hole and the soldier ants, start scrambling up the stick. Being only five and extremely curious, he calls out to a neighboring 5 year old and she comes up with the idea of introducing those ants to an ant hill in her yard, where the ants are a different color….

They do so and a great battle ensues…. With two grownups keeping eyes on the small congress of kids swelling in their yards, both parents remain comfortable and neither investigates exactly what is going on….

But a nosy neighbor who has been trying to get both families to move away for years….hears the noise, and calls the authorities to announce there is animal fighting going on……

Keep in mind, it is just ants, locked in mortal combat, fighting to the death……..

…………………….

Tomorrow on the Senate Agenda, lies Senator Bonini’s bill SB 258. This Act imposes a minimum mandatory 6 months in jail for animal fighting or baiting. The offense is a class F felony.

Although one would certainly approve of this bill if it were limited to dogs, cocks, or other large animals with which we share empathy….. But it lacks such limitations. This crime, according to Delaware

Code TITLE 11
Crimes and Criminal Procedure
Delaware Criminal Code
CHAPTER 5. SPECIFIC OFFENSES
Subchapter VII. Offenses Against Public Health, Order and Decency
§ 1326.
Animals; fighting and baiting prohibited; class F felony.

covers “any bull, bear, dog, cock or other animal, or fowl:”

“Other animal” could be construed to to cover any living organism which isn’t a plant. That includes crabs, oysters, praying mantises, spiders, slugs, and of course all insects, including ants……

If Bonini’s act is passed without substantial amendments, some small child could spend six months in Smyrna…. For : “the minimum sentence shall not be subject to suspension and no person shall be eligible for probation during the minimum sentence.”.

Even if they are five years old?

The bill could be considered “ok”. only if a proper amendment is passed with a clarification of exactly which “animals” will bestow this mandatory sentence (mandatory sentences do not work…by the way) and which animals will not…….

Young kids are very curious. It would be a tragedy if some young child was ruined because of vague language within an Act of the Senate itself…. How many of you know of an incident such as this, which took place as you were growing up? If Bonini had been around during my day….I would have had a brother locked up…….

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