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Anti-Ivory Groups Take Aim at WA, IA & CA (Mammoth Ivory Included) + Fed Update 8/27/15

Anti-Ivory forces are hard at work trying to enact more draconian state Ivory Bans. With the success we have had to date slowing down the publication of a Federal Ivory Ban (see below) and with at least the possibility we may get something done in Congress to stop the Feds completely, Clintons, HSUS, et al, have turned to the states. They passed draconian Ivory Bans in NY and NJ last year (which also included Mammoth Ivory – something the Feds aren’t touching). Bills have already filed been this year in Washington, Iowa and California (see below).

Washington State Ivory Ban Bill

In Washington State the anti-Ivory forces are hard at work trying to enact another draconian Ivory ban. House Bill 1131 has been introduced that is similar to the draconian Ivory bans enacted in New York and New Jersey last year. It also would include Mammoth Ivory in the ban.

The preamble to the bill is virtually a copy of that used in NJ, including the same lies, half-truths and misrepresentations. As with both the NY and NJ Ivory Bans, this feel-good ban would primarily hurt individuals and small businesses and there's not a shred of evidence it would do anything to save a single elephant in Africa.

If you live, work or travel in Washington State, please contact your Representative and ask them to oppose HB 1131. To locate your Legislator and/or the Legislator who represents where you, or where you work or travel you have to first identify the District, and then you can identify the Representative.

Click here for a model letter opposing HB 1131.

Iowa Ivory Ban Bill

In Iowa, Senate File 30 has been introduced that is also similar to the draconian Ivory bans enacted in New York and New Jersey last year. It also would include Mammoth Ivory in the ban.

As with both the NY and NJ Ivory Bans, this feel-good ban would primarily hurt individuals and small businesses and there's not a shred of evidence it would do anything to save a single elephant in Africa.

If you live, work or travel in Iowa, please contact your Senator and ask them to oppose SF 30. To locate your Legislator and/or the Legislator who represents where you, or where you work or travel go to: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators.

Click here for a model letter opposing SF 30.

California Ivory Ban Bill

In California there is already an existing ban on Ivory import and sales, but that ban has an exemption for sale of Ivory that had been imported prior to January 1, 1977, which protected a significant portion of the Ivory owners in California at the time. Experts tell us that exemption covers millions of dollars of ivory objects in the state that don't fall into the otherwise very narrow exemptions in the existing law.

Assembly Bill 96 has been introduced that would eliminate that exemption, "taking" millions of dollars from citizens of California by making it impossible to sell their possessions that are Ivory or incorporate Ivory.

Federal Ivory Ban Update

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has again postponed publishing the regulation we expect will alter or revoke the Special Rule on African Elephants that allows pre-ban ivory to trade in the United States.

The latest estimate for when that might be issued is later this month or next. The delays are the direct result of opposition to the ban from those who recognize that it will only serve to punch innocent Ivory owners and will do nothing to stop poaching in Africa or the trade in poached Ivory to China, where over 90% of that Ivory is traded. We appreciate your support.

With a new Congress, the legislative and appropriations strategies opposing the Federal Ivory ban will be renewed. We are working with our allies to get an appropriations rider to prevent any money being spent to enforce a ban and also to introduce and pass bills to protect the huge investment in Ivory owned by millions of Americans. With the changes in Congress as a result of the election, we feel more confident that a legislative solution may be within reach. We will keep you updated on all this as it happens.

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Knife Rights Requests Comment Period Extension 
on Fed's Proposed Ivory Ban Rule  
 
Knife Rights, along with other organizations opposing the proposed Ivory Ban rule recently published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has requested that the comment period be extended an additional 30 days. USFWS spent over a year developing this rule, the least they can do is allow those who will be significantly harmed by this rule the maximum allowable time to comment fully on it.

USFWS chose to allow only a 60 day comment period which closes on September 28. However, the law provides for up to a 90-day comment period, which is especially appropriate for rulemaking that adversely affects millions of citizens.

The proposed rule would severely restrict the import, export and, most critically, the interstate sale of legally-owned decades-old elephant ivory, causing immense harm to American knife owners, knifemakers, scrimshaw artists and suppliers to knifemakers and scrimshaw artists, as well as millions of other Americans that currently own ivory or items that incorporate ivory. Given the breadth of the impact this proposed rule would have on law-abiding decades-old legal ivory owners across the U.S., including small businesses, we believe the 60 days allotted by the USFWS is not sufficient.

Knife Rights abhors the poaching of all species. The proven solution is to attack poaching at the source, not punish lawful ivory owners in the U.S. who cannot have any effect on poaching in Africa.

You can read Knife Rights' letter to USFWS Director Ashe here:http://www.kniferights.org/extension_ivory_kr_08122015.pdf

You can read about the proposed Federal Ivory Ban rule here: http://www.kniferights.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=vi...
Knife Rights is working with our partners in the many organizations opposed to this rule to develop effective, well-reasoned and coherent arguments against this rule that we'll ask you to submit as comments. That will take some time to put together.
  
The most important thing you can do RIGHT NOW is to contact your U....
African Elephant & Ivory Expert Exposes Myth of Illegal U.S.
Ivory Market - Rebukes FWS for Misrepresenting His Work Submit Comment TODAY Asking Withdrawal of Proposed Rule 
 
Dr. Daniel Stiles, an internationally acknowledged expert on African Elephants and the illegal ivory trade, has rebuked the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for misrepresenting his research and misleading the American public about illegal ivory in America, submitting a stinging opposition comment in response to its proposed ivory ban rule that would harm millions of Americans and not save a single elephant in Africa.  Click here to read the full text of Dr. Stiles' Comment.

This misrepresentation is a serious violation of the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because the proposed rule is "arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law" (5 U.S.C. 706(2)(A)) and FWS has not articulated a reasonable basis supported by reliable and accurate data for its decision to promulgate this rule, as well as the 2001 Federal Data Quality Act (AKA Information Quality Act) because the data upon which FWS has based its decision to promulgate this rule is either entirely nonexistent, or in the alternative, has been seriously misconstrued. FWS' clear violation of these laws and regulations in misrepresenting Dr. Stiles work means that the proposed rule is inherently flawed and should be withdrawn. PLEASE SUBMIT A COMMENT TODAY asking that this rule be withdrawn (S...

FWS referred to Dr. Stiles' work numerous times in support of its proposed domestic ivory ban regulation. Dr. Stiles' comment condemns elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade, but he emphasizes that restricting trade of decades-old legal ivory in the U.S. will have no effect on the illegal ivory trade in Asia, nor on elephant poaching in Africa. He points out that poaching is driven by East Asian speculators in raw ivory, not consumer demand.  

Dr. Stiles states unequivocally that there is no demand for new poached raw ivory in the U.S. He says the importance of the U.S. as a destination for illegal ivory has been greatly exaggerated by the government and others promoting the ivory ban, all of whom have misrepresented his work. He traces the false claim that the U.S. is the second largest market for illegal ivory consumption in the world to a misrepresented U.S. ivory report he co-authored in 2008. That report included a table ranking the U.S. second behind China/Hong Kong based on the number of ivory items seen in retail outlets.  However, nothing in that table or report indicated whether the items were legal or illegal.  

The report also stated that "[t]he survey found 24,004 ivory items in the 657 outlets in the 16 towns and cities visited in the USA, most of which probably were legally for sale." It further stated "relative to the size of the USA's population and economy, little raw ivory enters the country legally or illegally (based on seizures). From this perspective, the U.S. ivory market does not appear a significant threat to elephant populations."

Dr. Stiles goes on to debunk the following quote from FWS in the proposed regulation: "Stiles estimated, in his 2014 follow-up study, that as much as one half of the ivory for sale in two California cities during his survey had been imported illegally. All of this demonstrates the need to impose restrictions on commercializing elephant ivory within the United States." However, he points out that his report said nothing about ivory being "imported illegally." The Stiles report actually stated that "[t]here is a much higher incidence of what appears to be ivory of recent manufacture in California, roughly doubling from approximately 25% in 2006 to about half in 2014" and in his Conclusions, "the proportion of possibly illegal ivory has increased by 25% to half of all ivory in the two cities surveyed." In his Comment, Stiles noted that ivory items manufactured in 2015 can be legal if it was made from a legal piece of raw ivory and that what matters is the date and manner of import, something he could not determine based on visual inspection of the ivory. Dr. Stiles' also highlighted that the quantities of ivory and outlets seen selling ivory had declined substantially since 2006-07 when his first survey was carried out, indicating a likely corresponding drop in any illegal ivory entering the U.S.

Dr. Stiles acknowledges that despite the small demand for illegal ivory in the U.S., there is likely some ivory that enters the country illegally. However, Stiles argues, as others have also, that the law that existed prior to the change in regulation imposed in February 2014 is adequate to prosecute violators as shown by the cases highlighted in FWS's proposed regulation.  

Given the insignificant impact on elephant poaching a domestic trade ban would have, Dr. Stiles questions the propriety of FWS's stated concern that the legal ivory market allows illegal ivory to be "laundered" in the United States. He asks why ivory is being singled out for this treatment, when much more serious "laundering" occurs in commodities like currency, designer clothes, DVD movies and other items that are still freely traded in the U.S.

commentTo take advantage of Dr. Stiles' rebuke of the FWS  and to support our efforts opposing this draconian and ill-advised rule that only serves to steal from honest Americans and which won't save a single elephant in Africa, PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR COMMENT TODAY at: http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FWS-HQ-IA-2013-0091-0415

Use this Model Comment in your submission (just copy and paste into the Comment field):

Fish and Wildlife Service ("Service") Proposed Rule: Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) Rule; revisions to rule 4(d) for the African Elephant MUST BE WITHDRAWN. The proposed rule in its present form is in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA") (Pub. L. 79-404, 60 Stat. 237) and the Federal Data Quality Act (aka Information Quality Act) ("DQA"/"IQA") (Pub. L. 106-554, § 515).  The APA is violated, because the Service's proposed rule is "arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law" (5 U.S.C. 706(2)(A)). Specifically, the Service has not articulated a reasonable basis supported by reliable and accurate data for its decision to promulgate this rule. The DQA/IQA is violated, because the data upon which the Service has based its decision to promulgate this rule, is either entirely nonexistent or in the alternative, has been seriously misconstrued. One glaring example of serious misconstruction of data by the Service in justifying the promulgation of this rule, are the misreported findings of the studies conducted by Dr. Daniel Stiles, as noted in his comment submitted August 24, 2015 (See Stiles's Comment, ID: FWS-HQ-IA-2013-0091-0415 http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FWS-HQ-IA-2013-0091-0415).
Knife Rights Speaks Out Against Ivory Ban at Federal Advisory Council - Urges Respect for Rule of Law    
 
A Knife Rights representative attended the August 24 meeting of the Federal Advisory Council on Wildlife Trafficking in Washington, DC to speak out against the Council's continued support for the Administration's irrational proposed ivory ban rule that will hurt many knifemakers, collectors and millions of Americans.

Knife Rights abhors poaching of all species and supports science-based conservation efforts that have succeeded in posting significant GAINS in some elephant populations in recent years. We support practical efforts to defend elephants in the field that have resulted in MARKED DECLINES IN POACHING in recent years, as well as lawful enforcement activities that directly target illegal black-market trade in ivory. We support targeting poachers, not abusing law-abiding Americans in violation of long-held American principles.

Click here to read the letter we submitted to the Council opposing ...

A key point we make is to note that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) published a study, "Monitoring the Illegal Killing of Elephants (MIKE) UPDATE ON ELEPHA..." that evaluates relative poaching levels based on the Proportion of Illegally Killed Elephants (PIKE). The latest report published last year clearly shows that the illegal killing of elephants peaked back in 2011 and declines and levels off thereafter. The report also notes that illegal killing of elephants in Eastern Africa has dropped for the last four years and these populations are now at sustainable levels. Southern Africa herds have been at sustainable levels for  all the years monitored, 2002 -2014.Where elephant herds in Africa are protected from poaching, the herds are proven to be sustainable

You can read about the proposed Federal Ivory Ban rule here: http://www.kniferights.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=vi...

If you have not already done so, to support our efforts opposing this draconian and ill-advised rule that only serves to steal from honest Americans and which won't save a single elephant in Africa, please submit a comment TODAY based on the article above this one. 

Knife Rights is working with our partners in the many organizations opposed to this rule to develop additional effective, well-reasoned and coherent arguments against this rule. As we progress, we'll ask you to help by submitting additional comments.
Knife Dealer Faces Down Malicious Prosecution

Knife Rights would like to congratulate knife dealer Joshua Burbank who had the courage of his convictions, defending his right to possess and sell perfectly legal knives in Massachusetts. 

Over a two-year ordeal, he steadfastly refused to be intimidated by abusive law enforcement and prosecutors after an off-duty Hubbarston, MA police officer improperly seized over 50 balisong (butterfly) knives and then a week later when asked to return the property, responded by charging him with sales and possession of dangerous weapons. Possession and sale of Balisong knives is not illegal under Massachusetts law.

While the possession charge was quickly dismissed by the Magistrate, the more vaguely worded sales of "dangerous weapons" charge was allowed to stand. Burbank went to trial, during which the District Attorney attempted to make a point, so to speak, by outrageously demanding that the witnesses, the arresting officer, an expert for the defense and Burbank himself, insert an open and locked 4-inch bladed balisong into their front pocket point down, endangering themselves in the process. While the others apparently complied, if somewhat nervously according the Burbank, Burbank refused, and rightly so in our opinion. He reportedly told the judge that "someone would have to be insane to do that... because it risked injury," making the DA appear even more foolish in the eyes of the court.

Ultimately, Burbank was found "not guilty" by the jury and he was able to get back his seized knives. Burbank has subsequently filed suit in Federal court seeking to recover the costs incurred in his defense as well as damages he believes he is owed and additional punitive damages for the unjust malicious prosecution to which he was subjected.

Knife Rights has been fighting all over the United States to reform knife laws because, as this case exemplifies, the way knife laws are written really makes a difference, even more so when a person is unjustly charged with a crime. If the law clearly makes no particular knife illegal, which is always our ultimate goal, there is far less opportunity for a rogue officer or prosecutor to abuse the law against a citizen who has done nothing illegal. As worst, it is critical that any knives that are considered illegal under the law, whether it be possession, carry or concealed carry, be clearly defined in the law, otherwise abuse is likely. 

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