Is American Gun Lobby Attempting to Impede Fight Against Wildlife Crime?

The National Rifle Association of America is up in arms about new ivory trade restrictions. Photo by Derek Keats via Wikimedia Commons
The National Rifle Association of America is up in arms about new ivory trade restrictions. Photo by Derek Keats via Wikimedia Commons

It seems the National Rifle Association of America is willing to support wildlife trafficking — the world’s fourth largest transnational organized crime — because it believes that new restrictions on domestic ivory trade are an “attempt by this anti-gun Administration to ban firearms based on cosmetics”.

The NRA is up in arms over the U.S. National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, which will prohibit commercial imports and most interstate sales of African elephant ivory. (The main exception is for a bona fide “antique” — an ivory item more than 100 years old that meets certain requirements.)

Some shotguns, pistols, revolvers, knives, and “firearm accessories” contain ivory and so the NRA has reacted with a post on its website urging members to “oppose the ban on commercial sale and trade of legally owned firearms with ivory components”.

However, the NRA neglected to mention that by opposing the ivory restrictions, members would be in effect supporting a $15 – $20 billion illicit enterprise responsible for the potential extinction of iconic species (such as elephants), armed conflict, murder, money laundering, corruption, and exploitation of local communities.

The Administration’s National Strategy is part of our response to the international threat posed by organized criminal networks profiting from the illegal wildlife trade. And the ivory trade in particular has been linked to terrorist groups such as Al-Shabaab.

Be informed! Download the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking.


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Rhishja Cota-Larson

I am the founder of Annamiticus, and I work as an independent Wildlife Trade and Communication Design Consultant. I have journeyed to the streets of Hanoi to research the illegal wildlife trade, and to the rainforests of Sumatra and Java to document the world’s rarest rhinos. I am a Co-Chair of the SSN Pangolin Working Group. At CITES meetings, I collaborate with colleagues from around the world to lobby in favor of protecting endangered species. I am a Wildlife Trade and Trafficking Consultant for the upcoming documentary The Price, the host of Behind the Schemes and author of the book Murder, Myths & Medicine. I enjoy desert gardening, herping, reading, designing, and walking with my dogs.