By Jackie Finley
Just a few months back, President Trump referred to big game hunting as a “horror show” of sports trophies. He stated he had no plan to lift the current ban on importing certain animal-parts trophies, even though his two older sons were avid hunters. Now we learn that he has just removed the ban on importing elephant trophies from Africa, asserting that conservation of endangered species and sports-hunting are not necessarily contradictory.
While I personally dislike hunting, I recognize that others engage in it and that when under “humane” and legal circumstances, it is considered a sport. Something struck me, however, when I heard about Trump’s recent reversal on big-game hunting and importation of hunting trophies. Why, and why now? I then started to consider what is going on with guns.
I believe Trump is feeling threatened by the public response to the recent school shooting in Florida. As more people, including many young people, push for tightening restrictions on guns, he is afraid his base of conservative, gun-owning supporters will suffer as their God-given Second Amendment rights are diminished. Candidate Trump promised this would not happen. I personally feel this move to loosen hunting restrictions is his apology to a certain segment of the American population. He is chagrined that during his tenure as President, stricter gun control is even being considered, and is making amends in a small, yet symbolic way.
Trump’s weakening restrictions on the importation of hunting trophies bothers me. He is catering to his base by showing them that he won’t let the liberals get far in infringing on their gun rights. He is offering a new outlet by allowing them to import “banned” animal trophies, whether these people actually hunt the poor creatures themselves or pay to have the trophies, e.g., ivory, skins, or heads, delivered to them for display in their living rooms. Regardless of how they are obtained, such trophies reflect peoples’ abilities to spread power with guns.
As someone who believes in species conservation – and an unabashed animal lover – I am offended by the lack of humanity in Trump’s decision. Opening the doors to trophy hunting is a death knell to certain species and a step backwards in providing some security for animals in their home environments.
I realize that when prioritizing life’s goals and objectives, animal welfare is not always the top of the list. We need to realize, however, that neither human nor animal welfare is on Trump’s list of what he values in his world. While he is in office, both man and beast need fear him.