Do You Own An Ivory-Handled Knife? You’d Better Sell It Now.

Image courtesy knifepurveyor.comI’ll say this right up front so you’ll know where I stand: killing elephants for their tusks is wrong. The beauty and feel of elephant ivory is like no other material ever made, but engraved Chinese trinkets and perfect piano keys can’t justify the killing of extremely rare, intelligent and long-lived animals.

That being said, the recent actions of the White House and the U.S. Department Of The Interior cannot be justified either. They are in the process of almost completely banning the domestic sale — and resale — of any item containing elephant ivory, including the scales of collector’s knives like this one. If you own such a knife it soon be a crime for you to sell it, unless you’ve happened to keep a mountain of paperwork with it.

Even then you won’t be able to sell it across state lines. And none of this government intrusion is likely to save a single elephant.

Here it is, straight from all the President’s men:

FACT SHEET: National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking & Commercial Ban on Trade in Elephant Ivory:

…We will finalize a proposed rule that will reaffirm and clarify that sales across state lines are prohibited, except for bona fide antiques, and will prohibit sales within a state unless the seller can demonstrate an item was lawfully imported prior to 1990 for African elephants and 1975 for Asian elephants, or under an exemption document.

So it won’t matter if your ivory-handled knife, or piano, or pool cue or cufflinks were made decades ago from lawfully-imported ivory. If you don’t have the paperwork to prove it, you won’t be able to sell it to anybody. And if you can’t also prove that it’s at least 100 years old, you can’t sell it across state lines.

This foolish move is being made for all the right reasons. Despite severe global restrictions on the ivory trade, elephants are still being slaughtered for their tusks. Much of the blame must be placed on the local African governments. Failed and failing African states, hobbled by corruption or civil war, are impotent to enforce laws prohibiting poaching and trading in elephant ivory.

And the rest of the blame must be placed on China and much of southeast Asia. After all, the market will not create a supply where there is no demand. Demand is huge in Asia for all kinds of prohibited endangered animal products, from bear gall bladders to tiger privates to elephant ivory. China and its neighbors turn an a blind eye to massive imports of illegal ivory each year, because large domestic artisan industries depend on the supply for their livelihood.

But this domestic ban is still the wrong thing to do, even if it’s for the right reasons. It is estimated that over 95% of the illegal ivory trade is sent directly to Asia, and this extreme new rule won’t affect Chinese government practices one tiny bit. It’s also estimated that less than 5% of the ivory in the United States was illegally sourced.

But the Obama Administration turns these statistics upside-down. POTUS aims to turn American collectors into criminals by enacting a presumption that all ivory was illegally obtained despite knowing that it isn’t. The old rule was that the Government had to prove it was illegal, but now every collector will have to prove his innocence. And that’s just plain un-American.

How many of your great-uncles kept the receipt when they brought that ivory-handled hunting knife back from Germany in the 1950s? And how many of them passed that receipt along to your father, and then to you?

Didn’t think so. If you try to sell that knife after this rule goes into effect, you’ll be a criminal. Here’s a question for you, Mr. President: how can you prevent crime by creating more criminals?

h/t to Knife Rights


  1. Mike L says:

    This in my eyes is the story of whose ox is being gored (to mix up some large beasts) . Many moons ago I read Orwells story “Shooting an Elephant “. I cried. Then again as a child I read J.A. Hunters memoir of being a PH in pre-war Africa. Sorry, but at that time I lost all the pretty animal thinking. If you substitute “guns ” for “ivory ” in any of the reporting on this topic little change would be required. This communist in chief will no doubt take the next step pretty soon. Confiscation. Think that crazy? Well mark my words. The SWAT gestapo will be hitting the various knife shows, gunsmiths, and Asian trinket stores any day. Check out what they did to Gibson guitar company.

    1. icetrout says:

      the “SWAT Gestapo” needs to be sent to Africa in an all out effort to kill every last poacher on the continent… the Feds can do that or STFU !

  2. 2hotel9 says:

    Elephants, and other animals bearing “ivory”, die. It is stupid to leave it to rot. Hunt down and kill poachers. All of them. No mercy. Other than that the trade in ivory is no more “evil” than the trade in gold or diamonds or oil or timber.

    This is much the same problem as in Afghanistan and Colombia. Both raise a crop that is called “evil” and is illegal to trade. Cut that sh*t out. Allow pharmaceutical manufacturers to buy up the raw materials fueling the illegal drug trade and use it in the medical industry and SHAZAM the problem begins to shrink. Same for ivory.

    Thousands of ivory bearing animals die every year simply from, well, living. Having the native population gather and sell this resource with all the proper controls placed on driving or vending hotdogs on the street is simply intelligent resource management.

    Oh, wait. That would all require leftards obeying ALREADY existing laws. Never mind.

  3. ChuckN says:

    One thing I could never figure out is why some
    (many?) governments destroy the ivory they
    seize from poachers. Auction the ivory off to
    select craftsmen and use the money to aid
    conservation programs. Destroying everything
    just makes the poaching seem that much more
    tragic and pointless.

  4. Roger says:

    There was a black rhino not long a ago. A country auctioned off the right to hunt this extremely endangered animal. There was a shitload of outrage. Even after it was revealed that the rhino had gotten even more violent and senile, was way passed reproducing, was probably suffering from a fairly aggressive arthritis type of disease, and that the money raised in the bidding would be used to save countless more and possibly bring the species back from the brink.

    Humanity sucks at this conservation thing.

    That being said, I actually have a small collection of ivory handled knives and trinkets with a framed importation declaration from my great great grandfather. So I’m covered until the next step. They can pry my trinkets from my cold dead display case.

  5. Larry says:

    Poverty fuels poaching. Countries that don’t allow hunting of elephants have them poached ,and the poachers make about 75 bucks.

    Countries that have managed hunting of them get 50 thousand plus per elephant.

    Care to guess which counties have the strongest herds ?

    You gotta kill a lot of $75 elephants to equal one $ 50,000 one……

    1. 2hotel9 says:

      Dingdingding!!!!! You win teh intratubes for the day! Can haz cheezburger.

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Do You Own An Ivory-Handled Knife? You’d Better Sell It Now.

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