N.C. should adopt California fur ban
Although many of us East Coasters like to make jokes about the “Left Coast” and its liberal tree-huggers, the fact is that California is a forward-thinking trendsetter when it comes to taking a stand on social and environmental issues. In the past 20 years alone, the Golden State was the first to oppose federal restrictions on stem cell research, the first to pass a restrictive law on greenhouse gas emissions, the first State to mandate prescription drug discounts and the first to decriminalize the recreational use of marijuana. Earlier this fall, Gov. Gavin Newsom pushed through legislation that will allow college athletes to be compensated for the use of their name and image, a move that prompted the NCAA to follow suit. And last month, California became the first state in the nation to ban the sale of animal fur products.
According to CNN, the bill, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2023, will make it illegal to sell, donate, or manufacture new fur products, and that will apply to “all-new clothing, handbags, shoes, and other items made with fur.” In addition to signing the fur bill (AB44), Newsom also signed into law several other bills designed to prevent animal cruelty. Those laws will include a ban on the use of elephants and tigers by any circus that does business in the State. It also protects horses from slaughter and bans the trapping and killing of bobcats. However, depending upon your point of view, the recent legislation isn’t exactly comprehensive. For example, according to the Associated Press, the new laws do not apply to “products used for religious or tribal purposes…and they exclude the sale of leather, cowhides, deer, sheep and goatskin, and anything preserved by taxidermy.” Despite those perplexing loopholes, the new protections are a welcome sight to those of us who abhor mistreatment of animals.
Not surprisingly, companies that make products from animals are furious. According to the Fur Information Council, the retail fur industry brought in $1.5 billion dollars in sales in 2014. FIC spokesperson Keith Kaplan told the Associated Press, “The ban is part of a radical vegan agenda using fur as the first step to other bans on what we wear and eat.” In contrast, a number of design houses including Versace, Gucci, and Giorgio Armani, are fine with the new laws, and according to Recordnet.com, say they have either already stopped, or plan to stop using fur. And in somewhat of a surprise move, even Queen Elizabeth got into the spirit of things, coincidentally announcing last week that She will no longer wear fur.
Obviously, people disagree about what should and shouldn’t be banned, but we cannot ignore the disturbing facts. According to the Humane Society of the United States, every year, over 40 million animals are killed for fur worldwide, 30 million of which are raised on fur farms, then slaughtered. The other 10 million are trapped and killed in the wild. However, a group called Last Chance for Animals puts the numbers even higher. According to their website, more than one billion animals are killed for their pelts each year. So kudos to Governor Newsom and the California legislature for recognizing a wrong, and then righting it. I just wish our North Carolina lawmakers would follow California’s example. After all, Berger and company should at least be more concerned with protecting animals than they are with protecting gerrymandered districts.