Texas Senator John Cornyn Wants to Stamp Out "Murderabilia"

John Cornyn at DPD headquarters Wednesday.
John Cornyn at DPD headquarters Wednesday.
Dallas Police Department

John Cornyn really, really doesn't want you to get that copy of Catcher in the Rye you've had your eye on, the one signed by John Lennon's killer, Mark David Chapman.

Texas' senior U.S. senator graced Dallas police headquarters Wednesday to promote something that's been a pet cause of his for basically the entire time he's been in the Senate: stopping the sale of so-called "murderabilia," basically anything that has value because it's been in contact/made by/associated with a notorious killer. Charlie Manson regularly sells locks of his hair and various swastika-enhanced items. The late serial killer John Wayne Gacy, known as the Killer Clown, sold an extended series of clown paintings. A letter from Fort Hood shooter Nadal Hassan, according to a display that accompanied Cornyn's talk Wednesday, recently sold for $2,000.

Cornyn, rebuffed in two previous efforts to get similar bills onto the president's desk, wants it to stop.

"I know we were all raised to believe that crime should not pay," Cornyn said, "but unfortunately, due to the phenomenon of murderabilia, that's not always true."

Many states, including Texas, already have laws on the books that keep criminals from profiting from their crimes after they're convicted. The law Cornyn hopes to pass would effectively make the profiteering illegal nationwide, banning artifacts obtained from killers from being sent through the U.S. mail.

Some murderabilia.
Some murderabilia.
Dallas Police Department

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Houston-based victims advocate Andy Kahan, who set up a table of examples of muderabilia at Wednesday's press conference, said the trade of items from killers was a sick industry.

“Without product, there is no profit, and with no profit, the dealers will leave,” he said.

Critics of Cornyn's previous pushes say that murderabilia bans violate killers' First Amendment rights. In both 2007 and 2010, similar bills written by Cornyn failed to make it out of committee.


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