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Hawaii: Ivory Ban Legislation Scheduled for Hearing Tomorrow

Monday, March 28, 2016

Hawaii:  Ivory Ban Legislation Scheduled for Hearing Tomorrow

Tomorrow, March 29, Senate Bill 2647, a bill which would ban the sale, purchase and possession with the intent to sell legally acquired ivory and ivory products, has been scheduled for a committee hearing in the House Committee on Judiciary.  Please contact the members of the House Committee on Judiciary and politely urge them to OPPOSE SB 2647.  Please click the “Take Action” button below to contact the committee members!

SB 2647 would ban the sale, purchase, barter, and possession with intent to sell any ivory (defined to include mammoth ivory), ivory product, rhinoceros horn, rhinoceros horn product and products from various other animal species.  SB 2647 goes far beyond law-abiding gun owners and would adversely impact anyone who owns ivory, and products from a wide variety of animals, by significantly diminishing the value of lawfully acquired property.

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 mammoths, ivory from which is covered in the bill, even though mammoths have long been extinct).  SB 2647 will 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, this bill would not allow antique dealers and collectors to buy or sell other legal, antique ivory and ivory products such as musical instruments, jewelry and furniture pieces. 

There are several narrow and limited exceptions for knives, firearms and musical instruments; however, the exceptions are confusing and burdensome for individuals. For a firearm to qualify for sale under the exemption, the firearm must meet all of the following requirements:

  • The ivory component or “animal species part” of the firearm must make up less than twenty percent of the firearm by volume;
  • The owner or seller must have historical documentation showing the item was manufactured prior to 1975; and
  • The ivory component or “animal species part” of the firearm is not the primary source of value of the item.

This exemption places the onus on the owner to prove the ivory meets the requirement specified in the exemptions, and in most cases, pre-ban ivory pieces lack the documentation required to meet this exemption.  Additionally, the overly broad language of the exemption could easily entrap law-abiding individuals and turn them into criminals overnight.  What kind of “historical documentation” would be required?  Does the firearm have to be manufactured prior to 1975, or just the ivory component?  How would individuals accurately measure the volume of a firearm or a small, non-removable ivory component, such as an inlaid decoration, without damaging the product itself?  And further, does the firearm itself provide the primary source of value for the sale, or is it the ivory decoration that makes the firearm so valuable? 

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.

Once again, please click the “Take Action” button above to contact members of the House Committee on Judiciary in opposition to Senate Bill 2647!


Hawaii Ivory

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.