- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 2, 2015

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - California lawmakers are moving to prohibit the sale of old ivory, as lawmakers voted Wednesday to close a loophole in the state’s ban on importing, buying or selling elephant ivory or rhinoceros horn.

The bill by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, would end the exemption for selling ivory imported before 1977.

Senators approved AB96 on a 26-13 vote over the objections of critics who said it won’t have much impact while other countries and states allow for continued sales of ivory products.

“This is nothing more than feel-good legislation that is basically going to make criminals of law-abiding citizens in California,” said Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula.

Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, jabbed back that it is Democrats who are trying to safeguard elephants, the symbol of the Republican Party.



“We are seeing a poaching crisis that has the potential to influence an entire species of elephants and rhinos,” he said.

Other Democrats argued that even California acting alone can make a difference and potentially serve as a model for other states. California is a major market for ivory and the ban would help dry up demand, they said.

“We have to do something. The slaughter of elephants is so severe we may not have them a generation from now. That’s a concern for the planet,” said Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.

The measure includes exemptions for musical instruments made before 1975 that are less than 20 percent ivory; antiques over 100 years old that are less than 5 percent ivory; and sales or imports of ivory for educational or scientific purposes if the item was acquired before 1991.

The measure now returns to the Assembly for a final vote. If it becomes law, it would take effect July 1, 2016.

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