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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Steve Daines and Representative Jeff Miller (FL-01) announced legislation today to stop the Obama administration’s over-regulation of legal ivory that is often found in antique firearms, musical instruments and other family heirlooms and antiques often sought by collectors.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) announced plans in February to prohibit interstate commerce of African elephant ivory as part of President Obama’s National Strategy for Combatting Wildlife Trade. The plans caused “an uproar among musicians, antiques dealers, gun collectors and thousands of others,” according to the New York Times. Daines’ legislation, which has received the support of the National Rifle Association, among other groups, reverses the FWS Director’s Order, which prohibits owners from selling or transporting items containing legal ivory, while doing little to prevent the illegal poaching of elephants.
“Many Montana families own ivory-containing firearms or musical instruments that have been passed down from generation to generation and represent an important part of their way of life or heritage,” Daines said. “This legislation protects law-abiding citizens who own an antique firearm, instrument, or other family heirloom that happens to contain ivory from the Director’s Order, which only punishes law-abiding Americans instead of seriously addressing the real problem of elephant poaching.”
Restricting interstate commerce of ivory would affect whether an item containing ivory can be sold across state lines within the United States, as well as whether it can legally re-enter the United States if carried abroad during travel.
In a June Natural Resources subcommittee hearing, Daines noted two orchestras had nearly been prevented from entering the U.S. with their instruments and pressed FWS Associate Director Robert Dreher to explain how this protects animals from poachers.
Daines asked during the hearing, “Given the limited resources of Fish and Wildlife Services and the enormous poaching problem in Africa, is confiscating bows from the Budapest Orchestra really the best use of taxpayer dollars?”
Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander has also introduced companion legislation, S. 2587, in the U.S. Senate.
“The Obama administration’s announced plan to limit the trade of legal ivory—such as that found in legally produced guitars, pianos, and firearms — could prohibit musicians from buying or selling instruments that contain ivory, prevent firearms and family heirlooms containing ivory from being sold, and pose a significant threat to antique businesses,” Alexander said.
Daines’ legislation has been praised by several organizations.
“The NRA is grateful to Representative Daines for protecting law-abiding Americans that own firearms and antiques that contain ivory. The Obama Administration recently banned the sale and trade of all previously legal domestic ivory unless the owner can prove it’s more than 100 years old. For our members, this means if your shotgun has an ivory bead or inlay,your revolver or pistol has ivory grips, or your cleaning tools contain any ivory, the item is illegal to sell. For firearms collectors, this means their items are valueless if they contain any ivory,” Chris Cox, Executive Director, NRA Institute for Legislative Action, said.
“American hunters are the first and original conservationists and do more to conserve African elephants than anyone. We support this common sense legislation that allows Americans to keep our lawfully obtained ivory without the fear of being deemed instant criminals by the federal government,” Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, said.
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