The UN's War on Freedom
by Ari Armstrong, July 17, 2001
On July 14, about 400 ralliers protested the United Nations for its proposals to disarm Americans and other citizens around the world. Brad Stuart covered the event for KeepAndBearArms.com. His report is available at https://www.keepandbeararms.com/newsarchives/XcNewsPlus.asp?cmd=view&articleid=1712, and photos are shown at https://www.keepandbeararms.com/newsarchives/XcNewsPlus.asp?cmd=view&articleid=1711.
Stuart writes of the event, "The broad diversity of activists who showed up may have been the most exciting facet of today's rally... TRT's gold-on-blue shirts stood out nicely today. TRT members came from as far away as Washington State to participate... Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America gave a great speech to the crowd, as did the TRT speaker. The Second Amendment Sisters' speaker was also quite 'on the money.' Perhaps the best part of the event for me personally involved an interaction I had with one of the 7 New York City police officers on hand today. I said, 'These folks are all gun owners, the safest people in our society, the good guys.' He said, 'I agree. You guys are not the problem.' Coming from an officer in a city where handgun possession is denied to the general citizenry and the police are running a 'Turn in Your Neighbor' program, it was nice to at least hear the words. That they only had 7 cops on hand for over 400 people suggests that they do know that responsible gun owners are just that... responsible."
Does the UN really want to disarm Americans, or is that claim just a combination of paranoia and fund-raising attempts?
Edith M. Lederer's July 8 AP article is insightful. She writes, "Among the most hotly debated proposals are calls for governments to pass laws to control the legal manufacture, transfer and possession of small arms... [A] proposal 'to seriously consider' prohibiting trade and private ownership of small arms designed for military use is vehemently opposed by gun rights activists in the United States..."
The final sentence reads, "Arms trafficking is the second largest illicit business after drugs." So to solve that problem, the UN wants to completely ban small arms. Just like select drugs are completely banned in many parts of the world.
A July 10 New York Times article by Barbara Crossette says, "U.N. officials insist that this conference is not about taking guns away from Americans, but about keeping hundreds of millions of weapons out of the hands of child soldiers and pick-up armies, often in the poorest countries."
Remember the proposal "to seriously consider" prohibiting "private ownership of small arms designed for military use?" Crossette's article states, "There is no legally accepted definition of small arms or light weapons, though the United Nations tried in 1997 to describe them collectively as 'any weapon that can be fired, maintained and transported by one person.'" An AP release adds, "This is what the U.N. Department of Disarmament Affairs lists as small arms and light weapons: Small arms are weapons designed for personal use. Examples include revolvers and self-loading pistols, rifles..."
A July 6 Lederer article refers to "an explanatory pamphlet released by [UN Undersecretary-General for Disarmament Jayantha] Dhanapala's office." That pamphlet states, "The focus of the conference is on illicit trade in small arms, not the legal trade, manufacture or ownership of weapons... The U.N. conference will have no effect on the rights of civilians to legally own weapons." (Of course, in many nations, no civilian may legally own weapons.)
A July 11 editorial by the Rocky Mountain News emphasizes the UN's desire to stop the illegal international arms trade. It says, "One suspects that the Bush administration is grandstanding for its political allies who support Second Amendment rights." The article also notes, "The United States is by far the world's leading arms exporter..."
Surprisingly, a Denver Post editorial from July 15 is a lot more informative. It clarifies the problem of small arms: "Although the United States is the world's top munitions exporter, its sales primarily are high-ticket items like F-16 fighter planes, not combat rifles. More important, the breakup of the former Soviet bloc flooded the world arms market with millions of Kaleshnikov AK-47 assault rifles." That's an interesting counter to the claims of the News.
The Post's editorial argues, "The Bush administration was correct in refusing to support a United Nations treaty aimed at halting illicit weapons flow if the pact infringes on Americans' traditional rights to own guns. Stopping the epidemic flow of guns to troubled regions... is a legitimate goal... However, U.N. officials at a conference on small-arms weapons trafficking that began last week also have proposed banning all private ownership of firearms. That's going too far.... U.N. gun-control advocates call for banning civilian possession of any firearm based on a military design, which could be construed to cover virtually all modern guns, including lever-action hunting rifles."
The Post is usually considered to be slanted a little more to the left than the News. My personal view is that the News generally publishes more substantive editorials. In this case, however, the Post released an editorial which is more informative and well-reasoned and also more supportive of civil arms (a libertarian and American-conservative cause). Sometimes I wonder if demographics impacts the subject and content of a paper's editorials. At any rate, the Post concludes with a thoughtful line: "Taking away Gramps' .30-30 in Chugwater, Wyo., won't make Rwanda any safer."
The upshot is that, yes, civil arms advocates are completely justified in protesting the United Nations. Not only are petty tyrants in the UN attempting to usurp U.S. sovereignty, but American victim disarmament activists are making hay out of the conference.
Here is just one example. The News published an AP story by Lederer July 12 which states, "Diplomats involved in the initiative say it would help authorities stem the flow of legally purchased light weapons to black markets supplying arms for conflicts around the world." However, accompanying the article is a bit of flagrant propaganda also from the AP. The text above a chart claims, "Research shows a definite relationship between arms availability and violence -- the more weapons there are in a society, the more likely they are to be used. For example, handgun-related murders are more common in the United States, where guns are readily available, than in Canada, which has more restrictive gun laws." The comments and related chart are incredibly misleading:
Or consider this bit of news from Richard Stevens of JPFO, sent out by the Second Amendment Project newsletter, "An issue in honor of Ray Bradbury's prescient novel, "Fahrenheit 451:"
It is "Small Arms Destruction Day" on July 9, 2001. Plans are underway for government agents to ignite huge bonfires of handguns, rifles and other firearms in major population centers worldwide. No joke. The United Nations Conference on Small Weapons is sponsoring massive gun burnings on July 9 to mark the opening in New York of the UN Conference on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons. Organizers of the Conference say "the public destruction of weapons" is good because it "is one of the best ways to attract attention" to global civilian disarmament. Whose guns will be burned? Privately-held weapons that have been captured or confiscated by governments, of course. But certainly not the guns held by governments and their armies, police forces and death squads.
Elsewhere, Congressman Ron Paul argues that the UN efforts are an affront to the U.S. Constitution (http://www.house.gov/paul/tst/tst2001/tst071601.htm). Wendy McElroy points out that "Million Mom" leader Mary Leigh Blek attended the UN conference to advocate global disarmament. Blek is now part of the "Billion Mom March." No kidding. See http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,29718,00.html.
It's clear, then, that the UN is involved in efforts to disarm the American population. That's wrong. What about the problem of strife in disabled countries? I haven't seen a careful analysis of this problem. However, I have some reservations about the UN's approach.
The UN seems to want to support "status quo" governments, no matter how badly such governments treat their citizens. (Of course, this is not true across the board; the UN killed hundreds of innocent civilians in Kosovo in order to attack the established government.) The states of America had civil unrest, too, until the locals took up their arms and kicked the established government out. I'm not at all convinced that the UN's policy of blanket disarmament will differentiate between criminal gangs and actual freedom fighters, and I think freedom fighters should generally get guns.
Because international drug prohibition is so obviously a failure, will international gun prohibition also be a disaster? Indeed, drug prohibition is a major force in perpetuating civil unrest in countries like Columbia. Will gun prohibition only serve to finance rebel gun runners? Perhaps Undersecretary-General for Disarmament Jayantha Dhanapala can address that issue in his next pamphlet.
Scores of thousands of Africans have been slaughtered by machetes. Surely it is naive to believe that getting rid of the guns (even if that were possible) would get rid of the social unrest. Even though the United States has many firearms, with almost one gun in the country for every person, we don't suffer civil unrest, beyond what's caused by drug prohibition, which is largely confined to the inner cities. It's a culture thing. We don't start shooting or hacking away because somebody else has a different tribe, religion, or skin color. In some regions a lot of people do just that. Ultimately, if people really want to kill each other, they're going to do it. If we really wanted to help reduce problems of civil unrest in other parts of the world, we would encourage enlightenment values of science and reason, encourage free markets, and open our borders so people who wanted to could escape the horrors of their homeland and lead a productive life in the Land of the Free, where, yes, personal firearms ownership is recognized as a RIGHT, not a privilege.