Yesterday morning, House Bill 1131 received a public hearing in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. Sponsored by state Representative Eric Pettigrew (D-37), HB 1131 was introduced with the supposed intent of curbing poaching of elephants in Africa and helping to end the illegal ivory trade. Unfortunately, HB 1131 and its companion bill Senate Bill 5241, sponsored by state Senator Steve Litzow (R-41), would accomplish neither of their purported objectives. The bills would, however, harm those who have no part in these activities; firearm owners, sportsmen, hunters, recreational shooters and gun collectors who have legally purchased firearms (and knives, jewelry and other items) that incorporate ivory features for decades.
Historically, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintained the position that most ivory in the U.S. has been legally imported and that its sale in the U.S. did not materially contribute to the illegal ivory trade. Nevertheless, under HB 1131 and SB 5241, the import, sale, purchase, barter, and possession with intent to sell of any ivory (defined to include mammoth ivory) or ivory product would be prohibited. Virtually any lawful item containing any amount of ivory, with very limited and narrow exceptions, would be rendered valueless as it would be a felony for you to sell it or for another person to buy it.
The proposed ban allows for some antiques over 100 years old to be sold or traded, but the onus would be on the owner to prove that the ivory meets this requirement. In most cases, legal, pre-ban ivory pieces are not that old, and lack the documentation required to meet this exemption. The bills provide no guidance as to what documentation would be considered “sufficient” to establish the age of an item.
House Bill 1131 is scheduled for another hearing next week in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee where further public testimony will be accepted. Also next week, Senate Bill 5241 is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee. Your NRA-ILA will continue to keep you updated when more information is available.
Please contact members of both committees as well as your state legislator and politely urge them to oppose House Bill 1131 and Senate Bill 5241. Contact information for both committees is provided below.
Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee:
Senator Kirk Pearson, Chair (R-39)
Senator Brian Dansel (R-7), Vice Chair
Senator Brian Hatfield (D-19)
Senator Maralyn Chase (D-32)
Senator Mike Hewitt (R-16)
Senator Rosemary McAuliffe (D-1)
Senator Judy Warnick (R-13)
House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee:
Representative Brian Blake, Chair (D-19)
Representative Kristine Lytton, Vice Chair (D-40)
Representative Vincent Buys (R-42)
Representative Tom Dent (R-13)
Representative Bruce Chandler (R-15)
Representative Hans Dunshee (D-44)
Representative Christopher Hurst (D-31)
Representative Joel Kretz (R-7)
Representative Ed Orcutt (R-20)
Representative Eric Pettigrew (D-37)
Representative Joe Schmick (R-9)
Representative Derek Stanford (D-1)
Representative Kevin Van De Wege (D-24)