Last month, the Obama Administration announced the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, which would effectively ban the commercial sale of ivory in the United States. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has called upon its members to persuade their Congresspersons to kill the proposal.
Last Friday, the NRA released a statement that rallies its 3.1 million members to press Congress not to pass the proposal that was designed to protect the world’s endangered animals because the proposal would affect the commerce and trade of ivory emblazoned firearms. Any piece of ivory less than 100 years old will be prohibited from entering the flow of commerce in America.
“This is another attempt by this anti-gun Administration to ban firearms based on cosmetics and would render many collections/firearms valueless,” said the NRA statement. “Any firearm, accessory, or knife that contains ivory, no matter how big or small, would not be able to be sold in the United States.”
This call to NRA members is a clear indication of the NRA’s priorities, and illustrates the groups loyalties, even if keeping those priorities are at another’s expense. In this case, the victims are African and Asian elephants. Every year, tens of thousands of elephants across the world are slaughtered for their ivory tusks.
According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), 22,000 elephants were illegally killed in Africa across 27 countries in 2012. As of last year, that number increased to 30,000, or 80 per day, and the massacres seem to be getting worse.
“With an estimated 22,000 African elephants illegally killed in 2012, we continue to face a critical situation,” said John E. Scanlon, CITES Secretary-General. “Current elephant poaching in Africa remains far too high, and could soon lead to local extinctions if the present killing rates continue. The situation is particularly acute in Central Africa where the estimated poaching rate is twice the continental average.”
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reported that in September 2013, poachers used cyanide gas to kill over 300 elephants in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. The IUCN said the killing was the “worst single massacre in southern Africa for 25 years.” There are approximately 500,000 elephants in Africa, with central African elephants receiving most of the violence.
In Asia, there were over 100,000 elephants at the turn of the 20th century. However, because of rampant poaching driven by an increasing market for ivory tusks and the expansion of urban centers, the Asian elephant population has declined about 50 percent over the last 60 – 75 years. Last year, the United States and Chinese governments seized and destroyed about 12,000 pounds of illegal ivory. Other countries like Togo and France have followed suit in cracking down on illegal ivory operations.
By wanting to kill the wildlife proposal, the NRA is protecting a $19 billion a year criminal enterprise. Assistant Sec. of State Dr. Kerri-Ann Jones noted the ivory trade’s expansion from “a conservation concern to an acute security threat.” Ivory is not just a business, it’s a bloody commodity used to fund other criminal activities, like human trafficking.