On Wednesday, May 20, at 3:00 p.m., the House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing and work session on Senate Bill 913, the ivory regulation bill, in HR 343. Please contact the members of the House Judiciary Committee and politely urge them to OPPOSE SB 913. Committee contact information can be found below.
As previously reported, SB 913 was introduced with the intent of curbing poaching and helping to end the illegal ivory trade. Unfortunately, SB 913 would not accomplish its purported objective. The bill 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 (knives, jewelry, antiques and other items) that have incorporated ivory features for decades. Nevertheless, under SB 913, the sale, offering for sale, possession with intent to sell or importation for purchase or sale of any ivory, ivory product, rhino horn and rhino horn product would be prohibited, absent limited exceptions.
Lawfully obtained items containing ivory or rhino horn, with very limited and narrow exceptions, would be rendered valueless as it would be an offense for you to sell it or for another person to buy it. Notably, the exceptions for firearms are more arbitrary than other ivory products. For example, musical instruments which contain ivory are legal to buy and sell granted they were lawfully obtained before 1990 (2015 for instruments with mammoth ivory components). However, firearms with ivory components must have been legally obtained before 1976, leaving a much broader time span for musical instruments to be treated as legal than firearms. Even so, both exceptions place the onus on the owner to prove the ivory meets the requirement. In most cases, pre-ban ivory pieces lack the documentation required to meet this exemption and the amendment provides no guidance as to what documentation would satisfy the requirement.
In addition, ivory components would have to make up less than twenty percent of the firearm by volume. Accurately measuring the “volume” of a complex mechanical object such as a firearm or of small, non-removable ivory components such as inlaid decorations would be a daunting task. Further, this exception fails to take into account that many variations of ivory pieces which may be present on a firearm. Often ivory can be interchangeable amongst firearms, and under this bill, an ivory bead sight would be perfectly legal on a shotgun manufactured in 1975, however, that exact same ivory bead sight placed on a shotgun manufactured in 2015 would be illegal.
The bottom line is that any property made from a product that was lawfully acquired should not be made illegal to sell and such an action is effectively a taking of property without compensation. While the NRA stands in opposition to the illegal ivory trade and poaching, banning the trade and sale of legally owned, pre-ban ivory will not save any elephants and is simply a symbolic measure that deprives law-abiding citizens of property that was obtained legally and in good faith.
Please contact the members of the House Judiciary Committee and politely urge them to OPPOSE SB 913. Committee contact information can be found below.
House Judiciary Committee:
Representative Jeff Barker (D-28), Chair
Representative Andy Olson (R-15), Vice-Chair
Representative Jennifer Williamson (D-36), Vice-Chair
Representative Brent Barton (D-40)
Representative Mitch Greenlick (D-33)
Representative Wayne Krieger (R-1)
Representative Ann Lininger (D-38)
Representative Bill Post (R-25)
Representative Sherrie Sprenger (R-17)