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California: Committee Hearing Scheduled on a Bill to Ban the Sale and Possession of Legally-Owned Ivory

Friday, March 6, 2015

California: Committee Hearing Scheduled on a Bill to Ban the Sale and Possession of Legally-Owned Ivory

Assembly Bill 96 is scheduled to be heard in the state Assembly Waters, Parks and Wildlife Committee on Tuesday, March 10.  This legislation was written with the good intentions to help stop the illegal trade in wildlife, as well as poaching for meat and products such as horns and tusks.  Unfortunately, AB 96 would do nothing to promote the purported goal of addressing poaching and the illegal ivory trade.  AB 96 would only impose a heavy burden on law-abiding citizens and deprive them of the value of property that was originally obtained legally and in good faith.

Current California law exempts the possession with intent to sell, or sale of the dead body, or any part or product thereof, of any elephant before June 1, 1977, or the possession with intent to sell or the sale of any such item on or after June 1, 1977, if the item was imported before January 1, 1977.

AB 96 would delete this exemption and amend the law to prohibit a person from purchasing, selling, offering for sale, possessing with intent to sell, or importing with intent to sell ivory or rhinoceros horn, except as specified, and would make this prohibition enforceable by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The NRA is receptive to measures that directly target the illegal ivory trade and poaching, but Assembly Bill 96 would not contribute to that goal.  AB 96 would harm those who have no part in these activities. American collectors, sportsmen, hunters, and recreational shooters have legally purchased firearms that incorporate ivory features for decades. These include some of America’s most historically significant and collectible guns. 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.

Why the NRA opposes banning lawfully-owned ivory in the U.S.: 

  • Even for items at least 100 years old, the burden of proof would be on the seller to show that the ivory is old enough—a nearly impossible task, since a firearm or other item more than 100 years old may have been restored with newer ivory parts. Meeting FWS standards of proof would be challenging and expensive, as FWS will require evidence such as scientific testing, a “qualified appraisal,” or other “detailed history” information ranging from family photos to “ethnographic fieldwork.”1
  • The proposed bans demand rigorous documentation to sell ivory that is more than 100 years old, documentation that private individuals typically do not have. Furthermore, there would be no accommodation for the numerous items made of legal ivory after 1915. Such items could not be sold, even with supporting documentation, and property that cannot be sold is radically diminished in value.
  • The NRA supports efforts to stop poaching and the illegal ivory trade, but the proposed restrictions on domestic sales of legally-owned ivory —from elephants taken long ago—will not reduce the poaching of elephants or illegal trafficking in ivory. On the contrary, a ban would affect only honest Americans by making their ivory—acquired lawfully and in good faith—worthless.

Please call AND e-mail the members of the state Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife committee TODAY urging them to OPPOSE AB 96.  Committee information can be found HERE.

Please take a moment to forward this important alert to your family, friends, fellow gun owners and sportsmen AND urge them to call AND e-mail the members of this committee to OPPOSE AB 96. 

1See http://www.fws.gov/international/pdf/directors-order-210-questions-and-answers.pdf

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