As I’ve written before, the Obama administration plans to effectively ban the sale of all ivory in America, even if purchased or inherited legally years ago. If you can’t prove its age, you can be arrested and have your property confiscated—unless you are well-connected and exempted.
Elephants are being killed for their ivory. Activists unable to protect the animals now are targeting Americans who followed the law in buying and selling legal old ivory objects.
But as I point out my latest piece in the American Spectator:
advocates of banning antique sales seem more interested in punishing people who bought and sold ivory legally because they bought and sold ivory, not because doing so would prevent poaching. It is an exercise in moral vanity and political posturing, not practical conservation.
Some ban proponents complain of the difficulty of distinguishing between new and old ivory. Actually, European carving disappeared decades ago. Asian carving continues, but old and new differ in character, subject, wear, age, coloring, quality, and more.
Nor do collectors of and dealers in antiques seek out poached ivory. Punishing people who followed the law and invested in legal objects might make a few extremists feel good, but won’t save a single elephant today.
Ivory entered America legally until 1989. Antiques with proper certification could be imported after that. But in mid-February the administration announced that if you had followed the law, it planned to render your collection or inventory essentially valueless.
The new guidance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service indicated that most every auctioneer, collector, and dealer—and anyone else who has purchased or received something made of ivory—better hire a lawyer before selling their ivory possessions.
The prospective rules are biased against average folks. If you represent the non-profit cultural establishment, you’ll get around the rules.
Point one, no “commercial” imports even of antiques will be allowed. However, the rules apparently will exempt “museum and educational specimens.” According to the administration’s reasoning, non-profit institutions will have a unique right to continue driving elephants to extinction.
Point two, exports are banned, except antiques in what the government calls “exceptional circumstances.” But “certain noncommercial items” will be allowed, so people with friends in government likely will be able to hurdle any new burdens in a single bound. Everyone else better hire a lawyer or lobbyist.
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