Ivory Ban, update

News of a proposed ban came down in February. I made a post at that time:


More than any other trade, I foresaw this as wiping out the ivory pistol grip business… good, bad, or indifferent. But really either indifferent or bad. Everyone who cuts ivory grips these days cuts from tusk inventories imported prior to 1989. Which is to say, an ivory ban would wipeout a small commercial niche here in the US that is providing some livelihoods and not hurting live elephants.

But, it’s the kind of gesture that you figure an environmental lawyer or apparatchik in the Obama administration would glom on to, and I expected it to see it implemented with some vigor.

This has not happened. There was the original announcement of a rule change, followed by almost nothing. I have a keen eye on the vintage accessories market for Colt single actions and indeed my own side business is tangential to that. Ivory grips are being traded and sold as they were.

The new ban would have been an exercise in the promulgation of administrative law, and figure by now it’s doubtful anyone thinks Fish and Wildlife has the power on their own to expand the scope of the relevant 1989 CITES statute. Probably including Fish and Wildlife. Because for the ban to stick, you have to make an enforcement action at some point. And for an enforcement action, you have to jail someone for selling pre-1989 ivory. And to be able to jail someone, it needs to be a codified statute with a codified penalty for infraction.

Lacking for that, the whole thing goes down the tubes the minute the first prosecuted violator challenges in court. So they are never going to enforce and lose. They are going to take credit for having ‘done something’ and that’s that. But it will be ambiguous until some point when a future administration acknowledges it never had the weight of law.

This never became much of a ‘talker’, but even if it did I had no feeling people would understand this is a proxy for the gun issue.

The guitarists with their ivory nutted Gbsons, Martins, and Fenders got a carve out first.


The NRA has weighed in now to speak for the collectors.


With the NRA in, figure the administration might be game for a culture war skirmish. But I still don’t think anyone ever gets prosecuted for this. Bottom line, it was dumb and not worth doing.


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