NRA-Backed Elephant Protection Group Fights Md.’s Anti-Ivory Bill

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An antique gun with an ivory handle.
An antique gun with a custom ivory handle. Photo by Judson Guns.

Today, at about 1 p.m. Maryland delegates will hear HB713, a bill to restrict ivory sales in the state. The Elephant Protection Association is trying to kill the bill, which is confusing until you discover that the group and its anti-HB713 campaign are being run by a firearms dealer, a Cato Institute senior fellow, and a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association.

The NRA connection was reported by Deadpsin‘s Dave McKenna, who communicated with elephant activists in Maryland who were surprised to receive pro-ivory literature from a group with a name like Elephant Protection Association.

Now, there is an argument out there to be made that ivory bans are harmful to elephants because they drive up prices and make poaching more enticing. And the argument has been made by anthropologist Daniel Stiles, and it’s quoted in full at elephantprotection.org. (It’s also been epically rebutted.)  Anyhow, it’s clear that the real interest of the EPA is protecting gun enthusiasts who own ivory-handled, and ivory-sight-beaded, firearms. In the EPA’s mailings founder Rob Mitchell writes that the bill “strips commercial value from legal property for no rational reason.”

McKenna points out that — except for Stiles — not one of the EPA’s major players had any history in elephant welfare before President Obama began cracking down on the United States’ participation in the African ivory trade. In fact, the NRA lobbyist who’s coordinating the anti-HB713 campaign told McKenna her interest in keeping elephants around is so people can continue to hunt them.

Let’s hope our delegates aren’t swayed!

 



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