Senator: Rule could 'take away our guns'

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Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is sounding the alarm about a new rule from the Obama administration that he warns could "take away our guns."

Alexander is concerned about the Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) controversial ivory ban, which aims to stop African elephant poaching. He says the rule could have the unintended consequence of restricting the trade of antique guns that contain small amounts of ivory. 

"For those of us who are concerned that this administration is trying to take away our guns, this regulation could actually do that," Alexander said Wednesday, speaking on the Senate floor about his bill that would roll back the ivory ban.

"If this regulation is approved, when you decide to sell a gun, a guitar or anything else across state lines that contains African elephant ivory, the government would actually take them away — even if you inherited them or bought them at a time when the sale of ivory was not illegal," he added.

Alexander introduced the Lawful Ivory Protection Act earlier this month in the Senate, accompanied by a sister bill from House Republicans. The bills would reverse the ivory rule and allow gun owners to sell antique firearms that contain ivory collected before the 1976 ban. But it would not allow gun manufacturers to make firearms with newly acquired ivory.

Gun owners say stopping them from selling antique firearms that contain ivory which was collected decades ago does nothing to protect African elephants that are living today.

Their concerns are shared by musicians, who are not only upset they won't be allowed to sell their antique instruments — such as guitars and violins — but have also complained that the rules would restrict them from traveling internationally to perform in orchestras and symphonies.

“I support stopping poachers, and I support stopping the trade of illegal ivory," Alexander said. "What I don’t support is treating ... musicians, antique shops, and firearms sellers like illegal ivory smugglers. … This legislation will stop the administration from taking away our legal guns, guitars, and other items that contain legal ivory if we try to sell them across state lines.”