ON JULY 21, THE UNITED NATIONS CONCLUDED THEIR first conference on international gun control, the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons. The international cabal dedicated to banning small arms and the liberal media were disappointed in the final resolution, yet the UN is now in the business of promoting international restrictions on firearms. US citizens who care about the Second Amendment should take note and remain vigilant.
In last week’s article, “Global Gun Ban in the Making, Part I,” I began the story of the United Nations’ effort to dominate the international arena in the area of small arms. I recounted the efforts by the Japanese government to put themselves in charge of UN efforts and concluded: “by the end of 1998, the UN was working diligently on ’s protocol.”As the year 1999 dawned, it looked as if the majority of nations were on the brink of passing a protocol that could bring about an international agreement on civilian firearms ownership. In December 1998, the European Council of Ministers announced an agreement on the EU Joint Action on Small Arms. Their press release included the following: “The new Joint Action primarily aims at reducing and preventing further accumulations of small arms and light weapons…(eg. by means of national inventories and regional registers, exchange of information, national controls to combat illicit traffic, education and awareness programs and incentives to surrender and destroy small arms).”A group of anti-gun non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) formed an alliance, The International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), which was working closely with many nations. In South Africa, an editorial headline in The Star read, “Having A GUN Does Not Make You Safer.”In April, the tragedy of the killings at Columbine High School became international news. While the US gun control lobby and its media allies enflamed popular opinion against the National Rifle Association (NRA) and gun owners, the international gun prohibitionists also took advantage of the tragedy. The Kyoto News Service reported on April 27 that the Japanese “government decided Tuesday to propose placing small-arms control on the agenda of the 2000 summit of the Group of Eight (G-8) nations to be hosted by Japan.”Taking advantage of the publicity fallout from the Columbine tragedy, IANSA launched their campaign against firearms ownership in The Hague, Netherlands with the ceremonial burning of more than 30 handguns, and opened their website.In July the Tokyo news service reported, “the UN Group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms, established under a 1997 General Assembly resolution, has been preparing the report. The panel, chaired by Mitsuro Donowaki, special assistant to the foreign minister (of Japan), will also call for an embargo on such weapons either in a UN Security Council resolution or by some other method.”That report was delivered to the UN in September. Yet, differences of opinion among member nations began to surface, making consensus difficult to achieve. The British-American Security Information Council (BASIC), a very left-leaning international anti-firearms organization, published a newsletter decrying the fact that the group’s “recommendations on civilian weapons possession and post-conflict weapons collection and destruction remained vague.Yet, even with vague definitions, The United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 54/54V of December 15, 1999 calling for an international conference on “illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects” during the summer of 2001.
On January 26, 2000 an article appeared in the International Herald Tribune under the headline, “Let's Go Out Into the World and Gather Up the Small Arms.” It was the blueprint for where the anti-firearms groups were heading. The article called for nations to destroy or confiscate “surplus firearms” and to institute “international controls” to prevent legal transfers from being rerouted to the illicit market.
It was clear that the international gun prohibitionists wished to control not only illegal firearms, but also legally-owned firearms. So why are all the gun banners disappointed with the results of the UN conference? Why didn’t it live up to their expectations?
The event was not cataclysmic; it was something that happens in the world’s freest nation every four years – an election for President.
With the election of George W. Bush, the Democratic Party was no longer in control of international policy. This dealt a serious blow to the inexorable march toward international gun control. It was President Bush who nominated a strong freedom-loving Attorney General and it was Bush who sent Undersecretary of State John Bolton to make a strong opening statement in support of the Second Amendment.
The US position left many diplomats voicing frustration over the final unenforceable language and blaming the US. However, the conference did ratify an agreement that has put the UN on record on the issue of illegal trade in small arms and they agreed to hold another conference on this issue.
Additionally, in June, the UN General Assembly approved the Firearms Protocol of the UN Convention Against Transnational Crime. The Protocol is a legal prohibition on the export of firearms without the express authorization of the recipient country, where "firearms" are defined as weapons a single person can carry and use to fire a shot. It may sound innocuous, but governments such as Mali and Brazil have already signed the Protocol. When 38 more countries sign on, it will become an international crime to transfer unauthorized firearms.
Thanks to the Bush Administration, American gun owners have dodged the speeding bullet of international gun control for now. Yet, the UN bureaucracy will grind on: pushing the Firearms Protocol; working on the second conference on small arms trade; and supporting governments and NGOs who wish to subvert the US Constitution. Unfortunately, in this arena, it is true that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.