Below I have copied two articles discussing the recent UN summit on small-arms. The articles accurately express my opinion on the matter... let's hear yours. I know its a lot of text (it'll probably take a few minutes to read) but try to read it all if you're going to reply.
Bypassing U.S. Voters
Rejected by the American electorate, antigun groups find themselves at home at the U.N.
Mr. Kopel is research director at the Independence Institute.
August 3, 2001 9:10 a.m.
Rejected by the electorate last November, American gun prohibition found the United Nations Conference on Small Arms to be the friendliest of venues.
Appalled by the Bush administration's insistence that the U.N. conference not become a springboard for the destruction of Second Amendment rights, a coalition of antigun groups organized a demonstration outside the U.N. during the conference. In conjunction the demonstration, the groups released a joint letter stating that the conference proved the necessity of additional antigun laws in the U.S. The groups included the Children's Defense Fund (an anti-welfare reform group), the Brady Campaign (formerly known as Handgun Control, Inc., formerly known as the National Council to Control Handguns), Physicians for Social Responsibility, "Million" Mom March chapters, and various other local groups. The letter read: "The Cold War is over, but the international community is suffering from a new source of terror: the glut of small arms and 'civilian' weapons that are seeping from many industrialized nations, through channels both legal and illegal, to virtually all four corners of the globe."
Note that the very idea of "civilians" owning weapons had to be put in quotation marks.
The "Million" Mom March, hadn't been doing very well before the UN met. The group had trouble getting attendance into three digits at its last Washington rally, turned out to be a political liability for Al Gore and many other candidates, had to lay off 30 of its 35 staff, was kicked out of its free office space in San Francisco General Hospital when it was discovered that the space was obtained by fraud, and finally ended up being absorbed into the Brady Campaign, unable to exist as a viable separate organization. But at the U.N., the group's leader, pretending that she represented and strong, independent grassroots organization, won a standing ovation from the delegates.
And if the group could claim that 850,000 people showed up at its Washington rally in May 2000 (when the true size, based on D.C. transit figures and crowd photos, was 100,000 or less) why not increase the mathematical fiction? So the "Million" Mom March now claims to be an organization representing a "Billion" mothers worldwide. As if a billion women have even heard of this failed US group.
But the U.N. made its support for the "Billion" prohibitionist movement clear. The press conference announcing the new group was run by U.N. Under-Secretary-General Jayantha Dhanapala, head of the U.N. Department of Disarmament. Dhanapala called the group "vital" to global disarmament, and urged the billion/million members to act "through their legislatures and governments to ensure that the program of action is in fact implemented."
The anti-Bush demonstration featured five huge ugly puppets representing the United Kingdom, US, Russia, China, and France, created by the U.S. gun-prohibition group Silent March. (Apparently the fact that the U.K. and France were working hard for Silent March's agenda wasn't enough to get in the way of some mean-spirited street theater.) The U.S. puppet, resembling President Bush, wore a gaudy Uncle Sam hat and a necklace of bullets, and was smoking a cigar that on closer inspection was also a bullet. The puppet sported an "NRA" sticker, and the sign worn by the person holding this puppet read: "US: Puppet of Gun Lobby?"
Silent March revealed a lot about its overall political orientation when it decided that dressing somebody up like Uncle Sam was an insult.
The conference provided an opportunity for several international groups have come out of the closet on their antigun stance. For years Amnesty International has organized and coordinated international antigun work, but has insisted that it is doing nothing to promote gun control. But at the Conference, Amnesty International USA Executive Director William F. Schulz said, "Gun trafficking is a critical human rights issue around the world, but the problem begins at home." He blamed "Loose gun regulation — in [countries such as] the USA, Russia or Liberia."
"Should human rights abusers be given arms?" asked Amnesty International, although the group had nothing to say about arms for people resisting human-rights abuses.
The International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) is the global consortium of antigun non-government organizations (NGOs). The IANSA site happens to be hosted on the website of Oxfam, a world hunger group with wide-ranging hard left agenda. Save the Children and World Vision also complained about the U.S. position at the conference — revealing the strong leftist tilt that careful observers have seen in these organizations in recent years — but which has, discretely, not been publicized to the organizations' American donor base.
July 16 of the conference featured two hours of speeches by anti-gun groups, plus a half-hour for pro-rights organizations. The gun prohibition forces claimed to be motivated by saving innocent lives, but their rhetoric showed much more interest in stopping guns than in saving lives. In case of a conflict, they clearly preferred the former to the latter.
Neil Arya of Physicians for Global Survival in Canada asserted that physicians don't care where a shooting was the result of a suicide, accident or homicide, or whether the shooter was a gangster, a soldier, or a law-abiding gun owner. In other words, his group sees no distinction between a gangster murdering a robbery victim, a victim saving her life by shooting the gangster, a Nazi soldier shooting a Jew, and an American soldier shooting a Nazi soldier.
A press release from Silent March complained that the U.S. had "rejected a call for states to stop arming guerrillas in other countries." The press release came after Undersecretary Bolton had explained that the U.S. objected to the provision because it would prevent aid to groups which were resisting genocide. Silent March promotes itself as a humanitarian group concerned about gun death, but this concern apparently vanishes when the victims are being murdered by governments.
This is the moral upside-down world of the United Nations culture, in which victims who resist genocide, and governments which help the victims resist, are condemned as immoral.
The gun prohibition groups also talked a lot about the need to keep guns out of the hands of "children." These demands who not limited to keep guns out of the hands of child soldiers. Rather, the groups were following Hillary Clinton's position that children and guns shouldn't even be in the same sentence. U.S. gun-prohibition groups have been long at work to frighten parents into not allowing children to participate in the shooting sports, and to enact gun licensing laws that prohibit young people from hunting or target shooting, even under immediate parental supervision. (For example, in New Jersey, it's a felony to take your ten-year-old to a target range and let the child use a Red Ryder BB gun while you supervise.)
Stymied in free elections in the United States, the gun-prohibition lobbies in 1998 turned to the courts, filing meritless suits against gun manufacturers, with the hope of imposing de facto prohibition through bankruptcy. As the lawsuit strategy falls apart, gun-prohibition groups now seek their victory through international law. The further that the locus of decision moves from democratic, American control, the better the chances for success of the prohibition movement.
Gunning Against Guns
Transparency at the United Nations.
Mr. Kopel is research director at the Independence Institute.
July 31, 2001 8:30 a.m.
At the Small Arms Conference, one of the buzzwords of gun-prohibition advocates was the need for "transparency" in small arms. This was shorthand for saying that there should be no privacy regarding gun ownership. Every government ought to have a list of every gun owner and every gun in the country. Registration has been used to facilitate gun confiscation in the United Kingdom, Australia, Jamaica, California, New York City, Nazi-occupied Europe, Soviet-occupied Europe, the Philippines, Bermuda, and many other places. Registration as an important preliminary step to total handgun prohibition.
Pete Shields, the founder of America's largest gun-prohibition movement (originally called the National Council to Control Handguns; later, Handgun Control, Inc.; currently, the Brady Campaign) explained his three-step program for handgun prohibition in the July 26, 1976 New Yorker:
"The first problem," Shields explained, "is to slow down the increasing number of handguns being produced and sold in this country." Solving this "problem" was high on the U.N. agenda, with many concerns expressed about "excessive" accumulations of small arms.
"The second problem," said Shields, "is to get handguns registered." This was Secretary General Kofi Annan's prime hope for the conference, to create a worldwide system of gun registration.
"Our ultimate goal," Shields continued, "is to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition--except for the military, policemen, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs, and licensed gun collectors — totally illegal."
As the U.N. pushed for global gun registration, the Washington Post and many other newspapers fumed that there was nothing on the U.N. agenda which would infringe anyone's Second Amendment rights. To the Washington Post editorial page, this statement was plainly correct, since the Post believes that individual Americans have no Second Amendment rights.
Other newspapers, appeared to recognize an individual Second Amendment right, but insisted that nobody's hunting guns were in danger. If a U.N. treaty were to require governments to register the ownership of every book (or every political book) in a country, would these same newspapers insist that there was no danger to freedom of the press?
A United Nations press release touted mandatory gun registration for every (non-government) firearm anywhere in the world, but said that a U.N.-controlled registry was "premature" — not that a U.N. registry was a bad idea, just "premature" in light of current political realities.
The Canadian government, having sunk almost three-quarters of a billion (Canadian) dollars into domestic gun registry — at the expense of police on the streets and the health-care system — pushed hard for international registration mandates. Apparently the Canadian government's failed registration scheme would look less foolish if other governments followed suit.
"Transparency for thee, but not for me" could be the U.N. motto. While pushing to abolish privacy for gun owners, the U.N. barred the press from the debate and deliberation on the official program of action. Americans would be appalled if Congress threw the press out of the Capitol while debating a gun law. But that is precisely what the U.N. did.
"Transparency" for small arms also requires, in the U.N.'s view, abolition of Internet privacy. The U.N. complains that part of the small arms trade conducted by e-commerce "is frequently encoded or encrypted, thus placing an extra burden on the law enforcement institutions to detect it."
To the extent that gun "transparency" can actual help track down how criminals and terrorists get their guns, the world's responsible firearms manufacturers already provide it. Since the Gun Control Act of 1968, all guns manufactured in or imported into the United States must have serial numbers, and markings indicated the identity of the manufacturer and place of manufacture. In conjunction with the U.N. Conference, the world's firearms manufacturers, working through their World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities, signed an agreement with the Eminent Persons Group (a collection of 23 anti-gun politicians) to provide similar markings on all their firearms.
Such identification has never been objectionable to the manufacturers. At a previous international conference, the only reason that a binding agreement on markings was not achieved was that China objected.
At the U.N. Small Arms Conference, the U.S. again supported firearms identification — provided that the language clearly did not open the door for registration of gun owners. That's good enough for legitimate investigations — but not good enough for prohibition groups who wanted to use the trade in illicit arms as a pretext for destroying the privacy of every (non-government) gun owner in the world.
This is sickening! I, for one, will never register any of my guns if the United States buys into this anti-liberty crap. I think we should get out of the UN before it is too late, but that probably won't happen.
God help us all.