The National Rifle Association (NRA) recently came out against a White House ban on the commercial sale of ivory, a rule which was designed to protect the world's endangered elephant population.
The February announcement from The White House was part of a National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, a larger Obama administration plan designed to address both American conservation concerns as well as security threats posed by the illegal wildlife trade. Specifically, the action would prohibit the import and export of ivory as well as significantly restricting its sale inside the United States, except in the case of “antiques,” which refers to items that are more than 100 years old.
The National Rifle Association's strong opposition only reinforces their absolutist, dogmatic, and draconian views on gun ownership, which reacts to any action taken by Washington regardless of the intention as a historic assault on civil liberties and individual rights.
Unfortunately, their opposition usually comes at another’s expense. In this case the victims are tens of thousands of African and Asian elephants being slaughtered each year for the ivory in their tusks, an issue that has little to nothing to do with American gun rights.
Image credit: AP
The NRA maintains that the ban is another attempt by the President to restrict the rights of gun ownership by limiting the sale of firearms inside the United States. "Any firearm, firearm accessory, or knife that contains ivory, no matter how big or small, would not be able to be soled in the United States, unless it is more than 100 years old," the association said in a statement on their website. “This means if your shotgun has an ivory bead or inlay, your revolver or pistol has ivory grips, your knife has an ivory handle, or if your firearm accessories, such as cleaning tools that contain any ivory, the item would be illegal to sell.”
That is an egregious position given what we know. Aside from the serious conservation concerns, illegal poaching and the ivory trade are increasingly being used to fund radical groups like Joseph Kony's notorious Lord's Renaissance Army, which supports activities including abducting children, forcing them to fight, and selling them into sex slavery.
The NRA relies on rallying its members by being militantly uncompromising, but this latest call to arms comes across as an embarrassingly petulant and childish overreach.
A Colt .45 with ivory inlay, which would be legal under the ban, as it was produced in the late 19th century. Image credit: Wikmedia
“This is another attempt by this anti-gun administration to ban firearms based on cosmetics”, the NRA-ILA (the lobbying arm of the NRA) said in February. Although the ivory ban is actually designed to protect elephants from poaching, the association's lobbyists are doing what they do best, pushing conspiracy theories to the lowest common denominator that say any action taken by the President, no matter what the intention, is a virulent attack on their values.
Unfortunately, this latest reaction doesn’t just reveal the NRA’s contempt for the White House and the President but more importantly their callous indifference to anything that stands in the way of promoting their given agenda.
Last year that was 35,000 African elephants. I wonder what it will be next year? We have to overwhelm their opposition with optimism. #ElephantsNotNRA