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Massachusetts: Ivory Bills to Come Up in Committee This Fall

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Massachusetts: Ivory Bills to Come Up in Committee This Fall

The Joint Committee on the Judiciary has tentatively scheduled a hearing for Wednesday, October 21, to discuss legislation aiming to ban the intrastate trade in legal ivory and ivory products.

As previously reported, Senate Bill 440, sponsored by Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester), and its companion, House Bill 1275, sponsored by Representative Lori Ehrlich (D-Marblehead), are two misguided bills that would prohibit the importation, sale, offer for sale, purchase, barter or possession with intent to sell legal ivory or ivory product in Massachusetts, with very limited exceptions.  These bills are based on the entirely false premise that they will reduce the poaching of elephants in Africa and help end the illegal ivory trade.  In truth, banning trade in legal ivory would only have a negative impact on those who possess lawfully acquired ivory in Massachusetts. 

The NRA applauds serious efforts to stop poaching and the illegal ivory trade, but these proposals will not contribute to that goal.  S.440 and H.1275 would, however, negatively impact those who have no part in these illegal 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.  Ivory is also commonly integrated in accessories used by hunters and fishermen, such as knife handles, and handles for gun cleaning equipment and tools.

Additionally, neither bill would allow antique dealers and collectors to buy or sell other legal, antique ivory and ivory products such as musical instruments, jewelry and furniture pieces.  For example, a person selling an ivory product, such as an antique piano with ivory keys, could unknowingly become a felon overnight.

Historically, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has maintained the position that most ivory in the U.S. has been legally imported and that its sale in the U.S. has not materially contributed to the illegal ivory trade.  Despite this fact, these measures focus on the taking of property that was acquired legally and in good faith.  Property that cannot be sold is radically diminished in value.

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 one elephant (much less mammoth ivory which is covered in the bills, even though mammoths have long been extinct).

Please contact members of the Judiciary Committee and voice your opposition to these bills.

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Massachusetts Ivory
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