While each person was limited in the time they had to testify, Todd and our allies, including the NRA, were able to cover the full spectrum of serious issues with the bills and provide perspective that was entirely missing from the misleading and often outright false testimony provided by those supporting the bills. We sincerely appreciate the support of our friends from industry, Tim Wegner and Mike Vellekemp, as well as collector David Jung, who were there to support our opposition to these bills. They hammered on the fact that these bills would hurt many Americans and would not save a single living elephant.
Click here to view video of the Senate committee testimony. You can hear Knife Rights’ Todd Rathner and Brian Judy from the NRA at 25:25 and David, Mike and Tim at 38:00
Everyone who testified in opposition to these bills finds the poaching of African elephants appalling. Unfortunately, instead of going after poachers, smugglers and traders of illicit ivory, these bills only attack innocent Washingtonians which won’t do anything to stop the poaching in Africa.
Knife Rights abhors the poaching of all species. The proven solution is to attack poaching at the source, not punish those who cannot have any effect on poaching. Successful anti-poaching programs, such as those that have been implemented in Namibia, for example, have demonstrated that an integrated comprehensive approach that encourages the locals to fight poaching does work. This is the sort of solution that should be expanded and encouraged by the U.S. and by all who really want to end poaching.
Historically, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintained the position that virtually all ivory in the U.S. has been legally imported and, most importantly, 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.
This ban would irreparably harm owners of ivory-handled and fossil ivory-handled knives, firearms, many antiques, many musical instruments and any items containing ivory legally imported into this country decades ago by stripping their value – a taking of millions of dollars from law-abiding Washingtonians.
The ban would criminalize legitimate business owners and cause immediate ruinous financial loss for them. It will cost the state millions of dollars in lost sales tax revenue and not save a single elephant.
These bills also include 10,000-year-old Mammoth Ivory, which just goes to show how absurd it is. Tons of Mammoth Ivory is collected every year by Native Americans in Alaskan and it is is one of their few sources of income. The only way to preserve this precious prehistoric material is to allow it to be collected, bought and sold. It is easily distinguishable from elephant ivory and is legal to ship all over the world.
Please contact the members of both committees and politely urge them to oppose House Bill 1131 and Senate Bill 5241. Click here for contact information for bill sponsors, members of both committees and a model letter.