This editorial appeared in The Kansas City Star.
Every state adjacent to Kansas has made cockfighting a felony. In Kansas, however, the brutal gambling activity is only a misdemeanor.
That means penalties are light and the risk of prison time is low. A defendant charged in Johnson County with breeding dozens of roosters to fight was granted a one-year diversion last month.
Kansas Sen. Julia Lynn, an Olathe Republican, is sponsoring legislation to make cockfighting a felony. It's a good idea. Tougher penalties would reduce the likelihood that Kansas will become a haven for breeding farms and cockfights.
Cockfighting is not a matter of "some misguided guys who want to kill a chicken on Sunday afternoon," as one lawmaker said when the Legislature debated the issue in 2002.
It's a bloody activity in which promoters replace the spurs of roosters' feet with razor-sharp instruments and send them into pits to fight to a gruesome death so that humans can enjoy the spectacle and gamble on the outcome.
No state wants to appear welcoming to such an activity. Kansas should join the 38 other states that have made cockfighting a felony.