• Worldwide control of all guns is ultimate objective of UN weapons summit
By Jeffrey Smith
NEW YORK, N.Y.—The United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT 2013) concluded in early April with a framework for worldwide control of guns, including provisions some critics contend could place Americans’ privately-held firearms under the international agreement and include even universal gun registration.
The conference proceeded through days of negotiations on smaller points of the treaty, which were presented to delegates to vote on. Raising the most controversy outside the hall with many Second Amendment and patriot groups were the 11th and 15th articles in the treaty. Some contend these could be interpreted to allow an international organization to overrule the Constitution and force gun registration on American citizens—what the UN treaty document refers to as “non-state actors.”
What many observers found most striking was the lack of involvement of many well-known Second Amendment gun owner associations. There were no news conferences. Only a few position papers were distributed to media explaining gun owners’ views. There were no mass distributions of notifications and protest literature to Second Amendment supporters in the area—and most of all, those close to the situation say, there was no effort to mount any kind of demonstration or public gathering anywhere near the UN buildings.
In the days since the conclusion of the UN conference, gun owners have been increasingly thrust into very serious legal danger with what appears to be a third wave of attempts to impose heavy restrictions on firearms ownership. This includes proposed legislation on federal and state levels.
Why Aren’t Pro-Gun Groups Up in Arms Over UN Treaty?
By Jeffrey Smith
In the wake of the school tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, a wave of moves to greatly restrict Americans’ Second Amendment rights has swept the nation. As if that’s not bad enough, a larger, far darker picture has emerged, leaving many longtime firearms-rights activists and knowledgeable gun owners unsettled.
Many seasoned observers in firearms-rights circles are alarmed about what just occurred at the United Nations, where the Arms Trade Treaty, after a 10-day conference March 18-28, was approved by the UN General Assembly April 2. The grave concern is that this treaty, by placing worldwide rules and restrictions on the “international” sale and trade of firearms, will adversely affect civilian ownership of firearms in member nations.
The key legal matter here is that the UN and its backers believe treaty law supersedes anything that the United States Congress or state legislatures may decide. Powerful policy-setting non-governmental organizations, mostly in based in Manhattan, are a central force in elevating treaty law from behind the scenes.
Many firearms-rights advocates have been questioning why key gun organizations are quieting their memberships’ well-justified fears, by claiming that what has been unfolding at the UN has little actual importance, and that strong intervention is not necessary.
Over the years, patriots have warned that should the UN pass some kind of mandatory full registration requirement or total gun-ownership ban, or any measure clearly beyond Constitutional limits, such a requirement could—in the present legal atmosphere under treaty law—be used to bypass all domestic Constitutional safeguards. And it would be impossible to reverse the action.
But as was the case with the last UN arms conference in July 2012, major gun-rights organizations did not seriously attempt to interfere with what occurred at the UN in March. Some lesser-known pro-gun groups issued statements and had representatives at this latest conference, but there were no demonstrations outside the UN, nor was a serious effort made to enact high-profile dissent against the UN’s Arms Trade Treaty. Yet, many of the older, long-established gun-rights organizations have absorbed millions of dollars of gun owners’ donations, even while downplaying the importance of UN gatherings on firearms regulations.
And evidently there were no mass mailings to alert gun owners in the Tri-state area close to the UN about the latest conference.
And the lack of major gun organizations’ involvement with this latest, pivotal UN conference was so striking that it was noticed by the liberal press. The British Guardian newspaper recently ran a front-page article noting that the National Rifle Association appeared to be silent on the UN conference that had just concluded.
But consider a rarely discussed organization, which is emerging as a highly important component in the large number of non-governmental organizations and academic outfits that have been supporting the latest UN arms conference and the international movement for gun confiscation. This organization, based in London, is the International Action Network on Small Arms, or IANSA.
IANSA conducts constant activities aimed at arms control, including stringent restriction, under treaty law, of civilian access to firearms of any kind, and, failing that, an international registry.
IANSA also seeks the establishment of gun control organizations in UN member states and the stimulation of existing groups to higher levels of activism. IANSA is so central and critical to international gun control that most seasoned observers rank it, by far, the most powerful influence in the anti-firearms movement. Yet, well-established, better-financed Second Amendment groups have been mum when it comes to the powerful IANSA.
And the continuing gun-control debate has had the effect of, for the first time in memory, splitting the pro-gun community to a hazardous degree.
Jeff Smith is a correspondent for AFP’s Eastern Bureau.
The Global Arms Treaty: What’s Its True Purpose?
• Syria, Iran, Russia, India, North Korea object to inside deal
• World’s biggest arms exporting nations eagerly ratify treaty
By Mark Anderson
NEW YORK, N.Y.—A United Nations (UN) treaty that imposes global regulations on the sale of firearms, ammunition and military equipment around the world was quickly approved April 2 by the UN General Assembly (GA). The measure had been halted March 28, thanks to strong objections from several countries, including Iran, Syria, North Korea, Russia and India. But internationalists pushed it through, insisting that the treaty should be voted on despite criticism that it hypocritically favored the largest arms peddlers over smaller countries that only want to defend themselves.
The vote was 154 in favor of to 3 against the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), with 23 abstentions. Despite the stern objections and questions posed by these detractors at the just-concluded ATT conference, more than 100 countries, including the U.S. and the U.K., pushed to have the 193-member GA take up the ATT immediately, resulting in this vote.
Thus, a treaty that took some seven years to fully develop from start to finish is now moving forward, and will eventually reach the governments of the nations that signed it for possible ratification.
AMERICAN FREE PRESS attended the conference for exclusive coverage in the North Lawn Building at UN headquarters. The deliberations leading up to the GA vote took place March 18-28.
VIDEO: Mark Anderson gives an overview of the just-completed United Nations Arms Trade Treaty talks (3:45)
VIDEO: Mark Anderson reflects on the sheer hypocrisy of the representatives of heavily militarized nations (3:58)
The nation’s self-styled “newspaper of record,” The New York Times, in its March 29 online edition, made it sound as if only Iran, Syria and North Korea were the dissenters at the conference. Others were ignored.
Those three nations—being the very first delegations to speak out during the conference’s final ATT adoption “vote” on March 28—forced Peter Woolcott, the Australian UN ambassador who presided over the treaty talks, to suspend the meeting for nearly two hours and confer with other officials
behind closed doors.
ATT 2013, the world’s first-ever pact to regulate the $70B international trade in conventional arms, would cover the licensed, or “legitimate,” export and import of everything from “small arms and light weapons,” to various military weapons, parts and delivery systems in some seven categories. The text covers tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers. It does not explicitly cover unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.
Notably, ammunition is also included—something to closely watch, since the most effective “gun” control is ammo control. However, cancer-causing depleted uranium munitions are not listed, even though they are used as “conventional” weapons.
When the suspended session on March 28 finally resumed, the three “rogue” nations repeated their objections to the treaty’s adoption. Their delegates painted the proceedings as a rigged power play by the world’s biggest arms exporters, such as the U.S., to tailor the treaty for the protection of their strategic and commercial interests.
Woolcott, struggling to mute his frustration, eventually announced that “consensus” had failed. Delegations, one after another, offered comments, mostly in favor of the ATT, while insisting the dissenters should be largely ignored. Because previous ATT talks last July fell short of producing a final document, these talks were determinedly called the “final” ATT session.
India’s delegate charged: “The final draft has the telltale marks of having behind-the-scenes carveouts” by the dominant arms traders. The spokesman for Pakistan, a nation frequently targeted by U.S. drones, noted that the ATT “is a product of exporters only.” The U.S. is the world’s leading arms exporter.
Many countries have become upset with the diverse, vague or non-existent rules that national authorities use for licensing arms transfers. So the “solution” was to create global trade rules under the ATT, which are the same for everyone. This would supposedly prevent arms from being diverted to unintended, or “illicit,” end-users.
Russia’s delegate charged during the waning hours of the conference that there was “a manipulation of consensus” that broke the rules agreed upon last year.
Syria’s delegation emphasized that there is a torrential flood of illicit armaments into that embattled nation—the kind of thing this treaty is supposed to prevent. Western powers and their intelligence units are accused of running guns into Syria to arm mercenaries who are trying to overthrow Syria’s government, while deceiving the world by claiming that Syria’s government is attacking its own citizens.
“Our country is suffering because some countries are supplying terrorist groups with weapons, legal or illegal, in Syria,” said a Syrian delegate.
Israel was named by Syria’s delegate and other delegates for its longtime occupation of Palestine and attacks on Lebanon. Syria declared there is “an inalienable right of people under foreign occupation to be free.”
The ATT’s preamble seems to reaffirm the sovereign right of any nation to regulate and control conventional arms “exclusively within its territory.” But what the ATT calls “diversion” could be interpreted as applying to the transfer of guns and rifles from an authorized seller to an approved purchaser who then transfers it to another “illicit” party. That is to say, the line between international and national markets could become quite thin.
And since the ATT calls for improved “national control lists,” some feel it could lead to broader gun registration and end up eroding Second Amendment rights in the U.S. Conference delegates AFP questioned denied there’s any tangible threat to domestic rights.
But Tom Mason of the World Forum on Shooting Activities, who attended the ATT talks, told AFP that the small-arms supply for normal civilian use inside the U.S. could dwindle if, say, the flow of small-arms imports to the U.S. was reduced because some other party to the ATT claimed that guns entering the U.S. might be diverted to terrorists or criminals.
The federal government says 5,459,240 new firearms were manufactured in the U.S. in 2011, 95% of which were sold domestically. Some 3.2M more are imported annually.
Mason therefore believes the ATT could “bootstrap” civilian firearms availability into its malleable, evolving mandate. And a spokesman for the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association told AFP that it appears the current ATT does not exempt antique firearms and their replicas, even though they are certainly not the weapon of choice for crime or warfare. And many of these weapons sold in the U.S. are imports.
The Hypocrisy of the Global Gun Traders
• Western powers only want weapons of mass destruction in their own hands
By Mark Anderson
NEW YORK, N.Y.—Observing the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT 2013) revealed a grand hypocrisy: The very governments that use the latest high-tech weapons of death at any opportunity are the ones backing a global treaty, which says various armaments must never reach the hands of what they call “illicit end-users.”
AMERICAN FREE PRESS attended the main gathering of all national delegates and several smaller breakout sessions. Half of the smaller sessions were closed to the press, however. The frequent closed sessions allowed some time for touring the UN grounds.
Consider the statue along the entryway to the North Lawn Building, in which the talks were held. It’s an imposing, masculine figure beating his sword into a plowshare—a commendable action, you might think. But this statue was a gift from the Soviet Union to the UN during a dark time in the late 1950s when everyday people of the USSR were forced to “beat their swords into plowshares” by being disarmed by the brutal Soviet state.
The message: Governments will utilize whatever weapons they see fit. Only citizens will surrender their “illicit” arms.
Closer to the UN’s main entrance is a rather famous statue of a revolver with the barrel twisted, signifying a call for ending violence. However, the revolver is generally regarded as a civilian weapon. One would expect the UN to display the likeness of a nuclear missile or tank barrel twisted, symbolizing the control of wildly destructive government forces, but that is not the case.
This “hallowed” world forum, ostensibly devoted to peace and understanding, includes the UN Security Council (UNSC), which has launched a number of brutal military actions that sidestep meaningful decisions by Congress, such as the 2011 “civil war” in Libya and the U.S.-led attack against Iraq in 1990. In those and several other violent actions authorized by the UNSC, scores of innocents have been killed. Yet ATT 2013 was rife with references to regulating the arms trade so as to “protect human rights and prevent genocide.”
If weapon control is so important, shouldn’t the world’s leading powers be the ones who severely limit the availability of their destructive military machines? Shouldn’t the U.S., for example, stop exporting to Israel the weaponry used to murder the largely defenseless Palestinians? Several ATT delegates conceded to this writer that Israel, with or without the ATT, will continue getting what it wants, though a Swiss delegate, when asked if his nation sells weapons to Israel, replied, “No way.”
Congress Pushes Back Against Globalist Plot to Disarm U.S.
• Oklahoma GOP senator vows filibuster of bill banning weapons
By Mark Anderson
On March 28—the very day that the 2013 UN Arms Trade Treaty came up for final adoption at a big UN conference—President Obama repeated his call for Congress to reinstate the “assault weapons” ban and approve universal background checks within the U.S. civilian firearms market. That was also the day The New York Times ran a long screed about the weapons, ammunition and other items apparently stashed in the home of accused Sandy Hook Elementary School killer Adam Lanza.
Another influential factor, which shows that New York City is the current nexus for promoting civilian disarmament nationwide, is that Obama made this proposal just after New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced, with Vice President Joe Biden at his side, that he’ll spend $12M of his own money to run ads in 13 states where senators presumably can be persuaded to back the ailing assault weapons ban.
Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) told CNN on April 1 that he will filibuster any new attempts at passing firearms legislation, even if detachable ammunition magazines which hold more than 10 rounds are not included and the legislation is limited to increasing existing background checks. Inhofe claims to have secured 53 senators to vote his way.
An interesting development is that Inhofe is one of seven cosponsors of Senate Amendment 139, amending Senate Concurrent Resolution 8, against the UN Arms Trade Treaty. The basic thrust of the amendment, according to the Library of Congress, is “to uphold Second Amendment rights and prevent the United States from entering into [ratifying] the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.” The Senate amendment was approved 53-46 on March 23.
The other Republican cosponsors are: Senators John Thune (S.D.), Jerry Moran (Kan.), John Boozman (Ark.), David Vitter (La.), Pat Roberts (Kan.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.). The sole Democratic cosponsor is Joe Manchin III (W.Va.).
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has been pursuing the assault weapons ban revival, yet after several weeks of fruitless debate by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reluctantly acknowledged that the votes aren’t there to pass the legislation. The bill’s apparent demise prompted Obama to take further action.
Notably, black activists recently took to the streets of New York to protest “gun violence,” but they chose to focus on criminals getting shot by police officers, a mixed message. However, the official message coming from the United Nations, Obama, Bloomberg and some in Congress is this: Guns are OK, but those in political control are the “haves” and the rest ought to be the “have nots.”
Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor. Listen to Mark’s weekly radio show and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Draconian Gun Laws Not The Answer
By Richard Walker
In the wake of a spree killing in Britain in 2010 when a lone gunman killed twelve people and injured eleven others, there were calls for even tougher gun laws in a country that has some of the toughest gun legislation on the planet
Calmer voices in what quickly became a heated public debate following the tragedy warned that the country’s already strict gun laws had not prevented a deranged person carrying out the killing. More significantly, those laws had not brought down the overall level of gun crime. As a parliamentary committee began examining the existing gun laws, the Countryside Alliance representing hunters and those involved in target shooting advised its members to write to members of parliament and engage in the gun control debate so it would not be dominated by those opposed to gun ownership. The Association warned that after previous spree killings gun owners had allowed the debate to be shaped by those who did not want anyone to possess a gun.
One of the central arguments the Association presented to government to encourage it to desist from further regulation was that too often there was a “rush to legislate, which penalizes law-abiding shooters while doing nothing to address the real problem of gun crime.”
That viewpoint was widely supported by most gun clubs throughout Britain, many of them aware of the fact there was a dearth of governmental evidence of legally-owned guns being used in crimes. In fact the opposite was true and despite the existence of draconian gun laws, gun crime throughout Britain was on the increase with guns flooding into the hands of British gangs and organized crime outfits from sellers in Easter Europe. In the opinion of gun owners, they were being unfairly pilloried when in fact the crime rate had nothing to do with the guns held by one million British people involved in shooting sports; an industry, which is worth well over $2B to the British economy.
In a 2008 parliamentary confirmation of the truth about gun ownership and crime, the Minister for State, Tony McNulty announced in response to a question there were “very low instances of legally held firearms being used in gun crimes.” He was in fact unable to provide evidence of any crimes committed with licensed weapons. In recent times, there have been claims in some media outlets that a number of police forces have played down the true gun crime statistics. The argument goes that if the true numbers were released they would show, beyond any doubt, legally-held guns have played no role in increasing gun crime in the years since the nation’s tough gun laws went into force. The Countrywide Alliance told a government committee that “knee jerk political reactions” to gun crimes such as the 2010 killing spree in Cumbria by a deranged gunman would not “explain the inexplicable.”
For three decades, handguns have been banned in Britain but that has not prevented rising gun crime and the same holds true for Australia, which has some of the toughest legislation outside of Britain and in some cases even more stringent rules. Yet, Australians are finding, much to their surprise, their gun legislation has not preventing rising gun violence from criminals and others, who have acquired weapons illegally. That has opened up a debate among Australians about whether tough gun legislation is really necessary. A similar debate has been taking place in Canada.
Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.