Murderabilia is the practice of profiting from the sale of items related to killers or killings. Currently, inmates send items such as the weapons they used, their prison art or even toenail clippings to a vendor to sell on the internet.
Cornyn, along with a co-sponsor, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., introduced a bill that would attempt to wipe out the murderabilia industry by preventing prisoners or a third party from mailing objects from state to state with the intent of making a profit. The bill would also allow murder victims' families to sue murderabilia vendors for damages.
“It’s a matter of simple justice,” Cornyn said. “This sort of trade keeps the wound of victims open that really should have been healed long ago.”
“You shouldn't be able to rob, rape and murder and turn around and make a buck from it,” Kahan said in a statement.
One opponent of the bill is Eric Gein, the owner and creator of the murderabilia website serialkillersink.net. When the Tribune asked Gein what he thought of the bill, he said the measure would violate his right to free speech.
"We at Serial Killers Ink do not pay inmates for any items we receive, and our right to sell these items for a profit is what free commerce and the American way is all about," Gein said in a written statement. "If someone does not approve of this business, they simply do not have to visit these websites. Furthermore it’s advocates like Kahan who are opening victims' families old wounds due to their alerting these families of items for sale. I doubt they would know that these items exist in the first place, if not for Kahan and the media attention that he in effect gives us. All the media attention does is increase sales on these websites. … Everyone has an agenda, even the so-called victim advocates.”
Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.