Archive for August, 2012

Gun owners shuffle weapons to confuse registry (Canada)

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Original Story Via:

By Kris Sims

BRIDGEWATER, N.S. – Thousands of gun owners are swapping their shotguns and rifles with friends and neighbours in an effort to obliterate the defunct federal long-gun registry.

“More than two million law abiding Canadians are sick of being portrayed as criminals so we are calling on them to swap their guns so we can make the old data totally useless,” said Tony Bernardo, spokesman with the Canadian Shooting Sports Association.

“More than 2,000 guns were shuffled on Thursday.”

Firearms ownership advocates worry that because the Quebec has filed an injunction to save the data in the long-gun registry so it can set up its own, that it will one day come back from the dead and be used to track long-gun owners across Canada once again.

A women’s shelter in Toronto is also in court trying to keep the data.

Dubbed “The Great Canadian Gun Registry Shuffle,” owners are trading and selling firearms without using the old registry numbers, making the old data inaccurate.

“We are taking the new law all the way, doing what the House of Commons said we could because these left-wing groups seem to want to put up blocks to what the government decided,” Bernardo said.

Introduced by the federal Liberal government in 1995, the long-gun registry was a database used to track owners of rifles and shotguns in Canada.

It ran over budget and was largely loathed in rural and Western Canada, with many farmers and hunters feeling targeted by police and politicians.

The Reform Party, the Canadian Alliance and eventually the Conservative Party all promised to scrap the registry. After winning a majority, the Tories passed a law this past spring to officially stop the registry and ordered the data destroyed.

Many groups wanted to keep the registry, saying that it assisted police in finding guns and reduced violence against women.

Quebec has gone to court asking to keep the data for their own purposes and has stalled the destruction of all files.

Twitter: @kris_sims

Canada’s NFA to UN: ‘Self-defense is a natural right’

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Original Story Via:

Canada’s National Firearms Association was the only Canadian pro-firearms group represented during the non-governmental organization presentations at the Second Review Conference of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.  (PoA)

According to NFA President Sheldon Clare, “It was important for the NFA to be present at this conference for four main reasons.  First, the PoA is alive and potentially dangerous – this was a well-attended conference and vigilance is critical.  Second, it was necessary for us to make sure that there was no attempt to make this the Arms Trade Treaty consolation round, or in any way broaden the scope of the PoA.  Third, we needed to make our concerns known about the aims of some to include firearms components and ammunition, and to make it clear that we are speaking out strongly in support of civilian rights of self-defense – the only Canadian organization to do so.   The fourth reason we were there was to use our strong voice to support our friends.”

According to Clare, “The government seems to be headed in the right direction.  I was pleased to hear the concise and clear presentation by Senior Policy Advisor Kim Joslin of the Canadian Delegation which was in strong support of firearms owners.  In particular, Canada supported the US position which opposes including any aspect of components or ammunition being included in the PoA.  Government representatives Habib Massoud and Steve Torino will be attending the second week of the conference.    It was clear to me in listening to the speeches from delegates that it will be difficult to achieve consensus on several aspects of the PoA‘s implementation plan in the two weeks allotted”.

The NFA and other World Forum (WFSA) members, presented to the UN Conference during the NGO session on Wednesday, August 29 and the text of the speech given by NFA President Sheldon Clare is reproduced below:


Madame President, I am Sheldon Clare, President of Canada’s National Firearms Association.

The NFA is Canada’s largest advocacy organization representing the rights of Canadian firearms owners.  Our members are concerned that UN attempts to regulate small arms and light weapons are misdirected and will have an unjustifiably harmful effect upon the ability of free people to have access to firearms and ammunition for perfectly legitimate purposes. The NFA rejects as false that civilian access to small arms is the problem.

Canada’s National Firearms Association (NFA) recommends that controls on small arms and light weapons be limited solely to major crew-served weapon systems possessed or sold by nation states – not individually operated firearms owned or desired to be owned by civilians, also called non-state actors. The rights and property of Canadians, and our firearms businesses engaged in the lawful trade in firearms and ammunition, including surplus firearms and ammunition, must not be subject to UN edict or control.  Quite simply, firearms ownership and use are matters of national sovereignty, civil freedoms, property rights, and are related to national culture.  Also, control of ammunition, including marking beyond caliber, date, and manufacturer would be excessive; it is unreasonable, unnecessary, and fiscally impossible to uniquely mark ammunition.

Small arms in civilian hands allow people to defend themselves from aggression. Self-defense is a natural right of all individuals. This is especially important in the event of unrest and disorder, or in case of state-mandated crimes against humanity. Civilian ownership of arms is an important factor in preventing and limiting the effect of government-encouraged murders such as what occurred in Srebrenica and Rwanda. Disarmed in Srebrenica by UN peacekeepers and in Rwanda by their own government, these people were helpless in the face of organized aggression, especially when in both cases the UN was powerless to provide protection. While governments need to act against terrorism, disarming civilians violates fundamental democratic principles.  Perhaps Governments should deal with unrest by addressing the economic situations, political differences, and human rights issues that contribute to people agitating for change rather than engaging in one size fits all solutions affecting the rights of free people to own and use firearms.
Thank you for your consideration Madame President.”

Clare concluded: “Other matters to be watchful of are the UN International Small Arms Control Standards, (see and what happens with the Arms Trade Treaty talks (ATT) which broke up without consensus in July.  There will need to be a vote at the General Assembly if it is to come back next year, which may not be possible due to the UN’s two year budgetary cycle.  Simply put, there may not be much support to reopen the ATT so soon in the face of no consensus. Nonetheless, strange things happen at the UN and the NFA has been present to protect the civil and property rights of Canadian Firearms Owners.”

UN hits and misses between the illegal arms trade and the right to bear arms

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Original Story Via:  Russian Legal Information Agency

MOSCOW, August 30 – RAPSI, Ingrid Burke. The United Nations is currently hosting its second conference in as many months aimed at regulating illicit arms trafficking. July’s conference strived, albeit unsuccessfully, to reach consensus on a binding international treaty that would regulate the global arms trade as a whole. The conference currently underway aims only to review the progress made by UN member nations individually and the international community as a whole in terms of the implementation of an action plan adopted by consensus in 2001 in order to combat the illegal trade of small arms and light weapons.

Both conferences centered on documents- the first a working document that never earned its wings and the second a binding agreement. Both documents are rooted in concern over the illicit arms trade, but one reached consensus and has entered into force on national, regional, and global levels, and one provoked a heated public controversy that endured beyond the deadline for approval by consensus.

To get into the spirit of things, RAPSI has decided to compare and contrast the documents underlying and the controversies surrounding the two initiatives in an effort to better understand what caused the former to sink and the latter to swim.

The UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty

Between 2-27 July, representatives of all 193 member nations gathered at the UN headquarters in New York with the common goal of establishing: “a robust and legally binding arms trade treaty that will have a real impact on the lives of those millions of people suffering from the consequences of armed conflict, repression and armed violence,” in the words of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Negotiations deteriorated in the last few days of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) conference as competing national interests gave way to stubborn resistance.

A draft of the treaty released shortly before the conference deadline was harshly criticized both by right-to-bear-arms activists and by their human rights/disarmament counterparts. The former took issue with what they perceived to be an overly broad range of arms and activities sought to be regulated. The latter took issue with what they perceived to be an insufficiently comprehensive document that left numerous gaping loopholes.

The document included among the list of arms sought to be regulated: battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, and small arms and light weapons. This range of weapons has received criticism from both sides of the advocacy spectrum, for being both too broadly and too narrowly tailored.

The inclusion of small arms and light weapons came under fire by advocacy groups that support the right to bear arms. Speaking to this point, International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights (IAPCAR) Executive Director Philip Watson explained to RAPSI during the conference, “We are appalled they deemed it appropriate to place civilian firearms used for self-defense in a treaty with tanks, bombs, and attack helicopters. It is dangerous to include civilian self-defense weapons in such an international treaty that could curtail legitimate use or trade of small civilian weapons.  Personal security and the defense of one’s home and family are values shared across international borders, regardless of an individual’s background or nationality.”

The opposite side of the spectrum was comprised of disarmament and human rights advocacy groups who argued that the list of arms and activities covered was too narrow. Toward this end, Amnesty International [AI] noted in a press release toward the end of the conference that, “Major loopholes in the draft text include ammunition not being subject to tight decision-making controls, an array of weapons, munitions and related equipment not being covered, as well as the treaty only applying to the international trade of conventional arms instead of all international transfers including gifts and aid.”

A similarly concerned Oxfam released a statement by head of its arms control unit Anna Macdonald around the same time urging that “[t]here are more holes in this draft treaty than in a leaky bucket and these must be urgently closed if we are going to stop weapons from flowing into the world`s worst conflict zones.”

As it became clear toward the end of the conference that hope was lost, some viewed the stalemate as the fault of the US. In a widely publicized move, 51 US senators pledged to vote against ratification of the treaty if it failed to protect the constitutional right of US citizens to bear arms. As US ratification of an international treaty requires the approval of two-thirds of the senate, these numbers were sufficient to ensure against US ratification of the bill.

The pledge came in the form of a letter addressed to the Obama administration. A press release issued shortly thereafter by Republican Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi quoted a portion of the letter that urged the Obama administration to break the conference’s required consensus if doing so was necessary to protect the right of US citizens to bear arms. The relevant passage stated:  “As the treaty process continues, we strongly encourage your administration not only to uphold our country’s constitutional protections of civilian firearms ownership, but to ensure – if necessary, by breaking consensus at the July conference – that the treaty will explicitly recognize the legitimacy of lawful activities associated with firearms, including but not limited to the right of self-defense. As members of the United States Senate, we will oppose the ratification of any Arms Trade Treaty that falls short of this standard.”

Later that day, the US State Department (USDOS) issued a statement acknowledging both the failure of the conference to produce tangible results and the refusal of the US to move to accept the treaty in its ultimate form. USDOS spokesperson Victoria Nuland stated, “we do not support a vote in the UNGA on the current text. The illicit trafficking of conventional arms is an important national security concern for the United States. While we sought to conclude this month’s negotiations with a Treaty, more time is a reasonable request for such a complex and critical issue. The current text reflects considerable positive progress, but it needs further review and refinement.”

Some US-based right-to-bear-arms advocacy groups attributed the stalemate to their own grassroots efforts. The most well-known such group, the National Rifle Association (NRA) took personal credit for the failure of the conference to produce results, stating on its website Friday: “The Conference on the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty has broken down and will not report a draft treaty to the member nations… This is a big victory for American gun owners, and the NRA is being widely credited for killing the [conference.]”

The conference’s launch was drenched with optimism. Prior to the start of negotiations, many lauded the potential of the conference to make the world a safer place through the regulation of the international arms trade. Ban expressed optimism in the face of the daunting task that lay ahead, noting, “It is ambitious, but I believe it is achievable.” During his opening statement, Ban urged the necessity of the conference’s success: “Every day, we at the United Nations see the human toll of an absence of regulations or lax controls on the arms trade.  We see it in the suffering of civilian populations trapped by armed conflict or pervasive crime.  We see it in the killing and wounding of civilians — including children, the most vulnerable of all.  We see it in the massive displacement of people within and across borders.  We see it through grave violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law.”

As negotiations fizzled, he lamented, “The Conference’s inability to conclude its work on this much-awaited ATT, despite years of effort of Member States and civil society from many countries, is a setback.”
The Second UN Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects

The conference currently underway has been scheduled to run from 27 August to 7 September. A list of member nations in attendance has not yet been released, but a UN official speaking to RAPSI Thursday confirmed that at least 75-80% of UN states are represented.

The document at issue is the politically binding “Programme of action to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects,” (POA) which was adopted by consensus in 2001.

From the start, the UN has made clear its intention to refrain during the course of the conference from restricting firearm ownership rights. A UN press statement explained, “The Review Conference only reviews progress made in the implementation of the Programme of Action which was adopted in 2001 to combat the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons… It is not about banning firearms or any other type of small arms or prohibiting people from owning legal weapons.”

The release emphasized the conference’s disinterest in imposing lofty regulations, stating: “Each sovereign State determines its own laws and regulations for the manufacture, sale and possession of firearms by its citizens. The United Nations has no jurisdiction over such matters.”

After denying rumors that the conference would essentially serve as a component part of a broader UN conspiracy—in connection with the Arms Trade Treaty—to prohibit civilian gun ownership, the release reiterated the recent failure of the ATT to come into existence: “The Arms Trade Treaty does not yet exist. It was discussed throughout July 2012 and focused on setting common standards for how States could regulate the international trade of all types of conventional arms. No consensus was achieved on a draft Treaty text. “

This conspiracy theory denial points to a critical difference between the conferences and the documents at their core. The ATT sought to regulate the international trade of all types of conventional arms. The POA sought to eliminate the illicit trade of small arms. The goals of the former were extraordinarily lofty; those of the latter, quite narrow.

The POA was born the successful outcome of a conference similar to that which failed to produce the ATT. UN members came together with the goal of combatting, preventing, and eradicating the small arms trade in July 2001, and reached a consensus on how to do so: by targeted, limited means.

Regardless of where one stands on the right to bear arms, it is worth noting the different reactions elicited from the two texts with similar goals but diametrically opposed scopes.

It should be noted that the POA has been criticized by its own implementation support system for lacking key mechanisms to ensure its implementation. It is possible that the inclusion of such mechanisms would have created obstacles to its approval similar to those faced by the ATT.


Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Original Story Via:

The Second Amendment Foundation today reminded the United Nations that “if women have the right to be protected against violence, then they have the right to protect themselves against violence.”

So spoke SAF’s Director of Operations Julianne Versnel, whose remarks to the U.N. Programme of Action conference were unlike anything many delegates had ever heard before.

The conference is seen as the first step toward rekindling discussions about an on-going process to continue development of a small arms and light weapons treaty, which earlier this summer collapsed when several nations opposed it.

Noting that she had reviewed what has already been written and said about the violence against women as it relates to the Programme of Action, Versnel emphasized that, “I am struck by what is not said.”

“If there is a basic sanctity of a woman’s person,” she observed, “if there is a right to not be a victim of sexual or personal violence, then that right involves the right to defend one’s self.”

Alan Gottlieb, Laura McDonald, Otis McDonald and Julianne Versnel at the 2011 Gun Rights Policy Conference in Chicago, Illinois.

Versnel stressed that any new global gun control initiatives must “do nothing to disarm women who legitimately and rightfully want to defend themselves.”

While international gun prohibitionists have been pushing a civilian disarmament agenda, Versnel’s warnings may open up a new and politically uncomfortable arena. It is impossible to dismiss female victims of violence as “male American gun nuts.”

“The drive for human rights is a force throughout the world,” Versnel stated, “and especially here at the U.N. A woman’s right to be free from violence is a fundamental human right. That fundamental right is to defend one’s self. The report of this conference should state that without reservation.”

The Second Amendment Foundation ( is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control. In addition to the landmark McDonald v. Chicago Supreme Court Case, SAF has previously funded successful firearms-related suits against the cities of Los Angeles; New Haven, CT; New Orleans; Chicago and San Francisco on behalf of American gun owners, a lawsuit against the cities suing gun makers and numerous amicus briefs holding the Second Amendment as an individual right.

REVCON 2012 – Prelude To A New Arms Trade Treaty

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Original Story Via:  Ammoland

With the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) currently on the back burner, in just a few days, weapon-prohibitionists will be holding another firearms conference in New York City: the Review Conference 2012 (RevCon 2012).

RevCon 2012 re-visits the UN’s Programme of Action (PoA) to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, adopted in 2001.

While the PoA enumerates many lofty-sounding objectives, to those unfamiliar with the UN’s agenda, to date, with regard to civilian firearm ownership, this might sound like a template for the elimination of human rights abuses. But armed with knowledge of the UN’s past efforts to achieve civilian disarmament, and reading all the provisions contained in the Programme, it is difficult to come away with any impression other than the PoA was really nothing short of a template to accomplish that.

But if the PoA’s proponents said what they really wanted –just like the rest of the weapon-prohibitionists– they likely wouldn’t have gotten to the stage we’re at now: the implementation of a global, legally -binding Arms Trade Treaty!

So they camouflaged their real goals a decade ago, and used the PoA as a guideline.

The goal of this Second Review Conference “[W]ill offer the opportunity to review the progress made in the implementation of the PoA, including the separately agreed International Tracing Instrument (ITI) (2005).”  And the goal of the ITI is the “Undertaking [of] effective measures in marking, record-keeping and tracing [which] is vital for curbing the illicit trade and combating the diversion of small arms to unintended users. Although many weapons are marked when produced and some when imported, international cooperation in marking and tracing of small arms is in its infancy.”

RevCon 2012 will take place at the UN from August 27 to September 7, 2012, and one can find its agenda described at the Reaching Critical Will (RCW) website. RCW describes itself as “a project of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)…. to protest the killing and destruction of the war then raging in Europe. WILPF created Reaching Critical Will in 1999 in order to promote and facilitate engagement of non-governmental actors in UN processes related to disarmament.”

Unlike the Arms Trade Treaty, which will encompass 8 classes of weapons, the PoA is specifically limited to Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW). Just as ATT proponents insist that the ATT was not intended to eliminate civilian weapons, PoA proponents (many of whom are members of the same anti-gun groups) also insist that the PoA is not about the elimination of the private ownership of firearms.

And this is how they laid the trap.  Since governments control the definition of what is “lawful,” when the time is ripe, governments can re-define lawful civilian firearm ownership and possession right out of existence.

The weapon-prohibitionists maintain that “Most illicit small arms and light weapons begin as legally manufactured or imported weapons that are subsequently diverted to the illicit realm.” They have no qualms about allowing government to retain strong control over privately-owned weapons. They appear to believe, with utmost confidence, that through their elaborate tracing and tracking schemes, they can locate the points where weapons are diverted into the illicit arms trade, thereby halting further illegal transfers, and punishing violators, as well.

But what their schemes will actually accomplish is decrease licit transfers of arms to civilians, who will then increasingly turn to the black market to obtain what government denies them.

Sadly, many Americans already accept the fact that our government controls just who is allowed to own which weapons, and under what circumstances those weapons can be owned and used. Although not stated outright, it seems apparent to us that PoA restrictions are intended only to reduce the lists –of permissible weapons, of those who can own them, and of how those weapons can be used.

And these lists are rapidly shrinking, day by day.

In a 2001 paper sponsored by Small Arms Survey, “Removing Small Arms From Society,” Sami Faltas, Glenn McDonald & Camilla Waszink confirm the PoA’s goal.

The authors state: “Finally, using a mix of incentives and sanctions and working together with business and civil society, governments must recover stocks of firearms held by the population and dispose of them definitively, preferably through destruction.”

The weapon-prohibitionists have been busy preparing a set of international standards, the International Small Arms Control Standard (ISACS), an early draft of which is currently online. Its update, which has been kept under wraps, is not easily accessible to the public (log-in credentials are required for viewing the document). The update is scheduled to be launched to the public on Wednesday, August 29, 2012.

It is often stated that “actions speak louder than words,” and the weapon-prohibitionists never come up short in this regard. We can best understand the RevCon 2012 advocates’ camouflaged designs to disarm civilians by watching their actions. Although they claim that their intent is to reduce violence and to reduce human rights violations, their acts indicate otherwise.

When voluntary civilian disarmament fails, as it has in the past, forceful disarmament will follow. The weapon-prohibitionists apparently know this, but they don’t seem to care. In an  article entitled “Lessons From the Frontiers: Civilian Disarmament in Kenya and Uganda,” the authors discuss attempted civilian disarmament. And, they acknowledge, “In some cases the use of force was clearly excessive, with grave human rights violations occurring.”

The human rights violations referred to included rape, torture, and murder.

If those who condemn the use of such inhumane methods are willing to see them used to achieve their goal of disarmament at any cost, including the loss of innocent life, we should never believe that their goal is benign.  Nor should we ever accept their pretense of innocence. We must always seek the hidden lie, for it is there just waiting to be found.

With the knowledge that total civilian disarmament–and government monopoly of force–is the ultimate goal, it is imperative that we watch RevCon 2012 with extreme scrutiny and skepticism.

About the authors:

Dr. Paul Gallant and Dr. Joanne D. Eisen practice optometry and dentistry, respectively, on Long Island, NY, and have collaborated on firearm politics for the past 20 years. They have also collaborated with David B. Kopel since 2000, and are Senior Fellows at the Independence Institute, where Kopel is Research Director. Most recently, Gallant and Eisen have also written with Alan J. Chwick.  Sherry Gallant has been instrumental in the editing of virtually all of the authors’ writings, and is immensely knowledgeable in the area of firearm politics.

Almost all of the co-authored writings of Gallant, Eisen, Kopel and Chwick can be found at, which contains more detailed information about their biographies and writing, and contains hyperlinks to many of their articles. Their recent series focusing on the Arms Trade Treaty can be found primarily at .

UN Arms Trade Treaty: A threat to the 2nd amendment?

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Original Story Via:

Negotiations at a United Nations conference over a proposed Arms Trade Treaty, which would regulate conventional arms sales across borders, ended in July without a report. The talks will likely resume, however, and many are concerned about the treaty’s implications for the Second Amendment. The concern is justified, given the treaty’s goal is weapons control. Its terms are vague and could be used to launch efforts to attack the constitutional right to bear arms.

Foreign treaties are signed by the president and ratification is approved or rejected by the U.S. Senate, thereby bypassing the House of Representatives. The current administration has stated on more than one occasion it believes Congress is an impediment to its policies; thus, attempting gun control by foreign treaty may be considered the path of least resistance, particularly if the treaty specifics do not come to light prior to approval. Once passed, vague treaty terms could be more restrictively defined.

How did we get here? The United Nations process started in 2001. In 2006, the U.N. General Assembly requested opinions on an arms treaty, and the results were published in a 2007 report by the Secretary-General. This was followed by a 2008 report and the establishment of an open-ended working group. In 2009 the General Assembly resolved to convene a conference on the Arms Trade Treaty in 2012 “to elaborate a legally binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms.”

The initial U.N. conference on the treaty was held July 2-27, 2012. A Review Conference will be held Aug. 27 to Sept. 7, 2012. The supporting resolutions and documents for these conferences reference a “Programme of Action,” but not the points of action themselves. Thus, the original document is critical, and by referencing only the “Programme of Action” the full implications of the treaty language have not been central to the public debate.

The initial goals of the “Programme of Action” were set out in 2001, and subsequent meetings have been held to propose measures to be taken to trace, monitor and control small arms (see page 7 of the hyperlinked document, which is also page 13 of 29 in the pdf file). Among other things, the Programme of Action resolves to “prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects” by “strengthening or developing agreed norms and measures at the global, national and regional levels … placing particular emphasis on the regions of the world where conflicts come to an end and where serious problems with the excessive and destabilizing accumulation of small arms and light weapons have to be dealt with urgently.”

Potential concerns about the process and the language might include:

  1. References to “regions of the world … [with] serious problems with the excessive and destabilizing accumulation of small arms” and the focus on “porous borders” in more recent U.N. documents, lead many to the conclusion the U.S.-Mexico border is a focus of the treaty. Mexico is part of the leadership of the treaty conference.
  2. The treaty resolution is to control the “illicit” trade. That leaves “illicit” open for interpretation, and it is not clear what party or parties will set the interpretation. If the U.N. passed a resolution that the manufacture or ownership of any type of gun (or ammunition) was illegal, then all small weapons could be “illicit.”
  3. If gun (or ammunition) ownership is illicit, the treaty could conceivably justify an international effort to put in place “adequate laws” in the United States as deemed acceptable to the U.N.
  4. If gun ownership was illicit, the treaty would require criminal penalties.
  5. Similar issues arise with the interpretation of “stockpiling.” Could the term be defined as a single weapon? More than three bullets?
  6. The treaty encourages moratoria on weapons.
  7. Treaty implementation encourages the use of regulations and administrative procedures to accomplish the goal, again bypassing the full Congress.

Experience has taught that an idea or policy can be approved or passed, only to have the idea and concept redefined to implement an entirely different outcome that never would have passed the vote in the first place. This U.N. treaty raises the concern that the U.S. may sign away its sovereignty on the gun ownership issue.

One might wonder what this Arms Trade Treaty would look like when implemented. The answer hinges on the interpretation of specific terms mentioned above, such as “illicit” and “stockpiling,” as well as “adequate laws, regulations and procedures,” “legal” and  “destabilizing accumulation.” For one possible outcome, one needs to look no farther than Venezuela. On June 1, 2012, a new Venezuelan gun control law promoted by the administration of President Hugo Chavez went into effect that makes the sale and manufacture of weapons and ammunition illegal and requires all weapons to be registered. Only the military, police and security personnel are permitted to purchase a firearm or ammunition. It is interesting to note that Venezuela’s close ally, Iran, is on the leadership committee for the Arms Trade Treaty.

With mistrust surrounding the recent Fast and Furious scandal, the federal government’s efforts to provide U.S. citizen gun information to foreign governments through eTrace, and a belief Obama administration officials would like to see greater gun control, it is no wonder there is serious concern about the U.N. Arms Control Treaty. The treaty appears to be yet another tactic “under the radar” aimed at the Second Amendment.

As early as last summer, 13 U.S. Senators sent a letter to the president reflecting this concern. On July 26, 2012, a bipartisan group of 51 U. S. Senators sent another letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton threatening to oppose the treaty if it did not protect America’s constitutional right to bear arms. When the Arms Trade Treaty conference group announced on July 27, 2012, that it had failed to come to an agreement, it cited the changing U.S. position the day before as issue. One could therefore assume the Arms Trade Treaty was a U.S.-led effort that could neither stand without the current administration’s participation, nor without language that might infringe on the American right to bear arms.

Have efforts for gun control slowed?  No. As a separate move toward gun regulation, a Senate amendment was submitted on July 25, 2012, the day before 51 Senators sent a letter to Obama regarding the Arms Trade Treaty. The amendment was submitted for attachment to the Cyber Security Act (S.B. 3414) and would make it illegal to transfer or possess large capacity feeding devices such as gun magazines, belts, feed stripes and drums of more than 10 rounds of ammunition with the exception of .22 caliber rim fire ammunition. As reported in the Congressional Record for July 25, 2012, the amendment has been tabled for the time being.

What will likely happen in current months? A variety of tactics may be at work. U.N. committee members are discussing efforts to bring the proposed report and treaty before the U.N. General Assembly in September.  Mexican representatives have been quoted as saying there will certainly be a treaty in 2012. Western diplomats believe the negotiations will be revived after the election. The State Department has stated the U.S. would support a second round of negotiations next year. Then there may also be continued efforts to attach amendments to legislation that otherwise is deemed vital to the nation.

Joan Neuhaus Schaan is the fellow in homeland security and terrorism at the Baker Institute, and the coordinator of the Texas Security Forum, and serves on the advisory board of the Transborder International Police Association. She has served as the executive director of the Houston-Harris County Regional Homeland Security Advisory Council and on the board of Crime Stoppers of Houston, Inc.

Global gun control treaty may return in the fall at UN

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Original Story Via:

by Dave Workman

Senior Editor

Following a stunning last-minute derailment of the United Nations’ highly-touted international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) negotiations, global gun control proponents are expected to bring the issue back again in the fall.

That was the forecast from Julianne Versnel with the Second Amendment Foundation and International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights (IAPCAR). She was at the UN when the ATT meltdown occurred, as was Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Both were instrumental in creating IAPCAR, which now has member organizations all over the globe.

The treaty talks essentially imploded in the final 24 hours when ATT proponents did not produce a final draft of their proposed treaty until late in the afternoon of the day prior to a scheduled vote. Another problem was that the document was printed only in English, leaving many delegates from non-English speaking nations in the lurch because they had no document to study.

The US delegation and other delegations simply did not have enough time to study the proposal, and there were problems with it even if they had.

The final draft came barely 48 hours after an initial document was circulated that met with tepid reactions from several delegations including North Korea and Iran. In a press release, Gottlieb called the proposed treaty, “a blatant attempt to negate the recent Second Amendment court victories we’ve had in the United States, and to get around Second Amendment protections.” A coalition of global gun control organizations has been pushing for the most extreme language and tenets in the proposed treaty, and now they are apparently back at the drawing board trying to come up with language that will be acceptable. That group includes International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), Oxfam International and Control Arms. The latter group was apparently responsible for a handout depicting their vision of the treaty provisions highlighted in Olympics-style rings, timed with the opening of the summer games in London.

Two of those items were “Arms and Bullets” and “Global Standards Over National Views.” The former alluded to privately owned firearms, and the latter was a veiled but direct threat to the Second Amendment, Gottlieb said.

Various gun rights organizations, including CCRKBA and the National Rifle Association, had been lobbying against this treaty for weeks. If the Obama administration signs it, the document must still be ratified by the US Senate, and after intense lobbying by the National Rifle Association, that doesn’t seem likely.

Now, with the national elections looming, President Barack Obama may be painting himself into an ever-tightening corner with American gun owners, if the treaty comes up again in October as anticipated.

Did the NRA Kill the Arms Trade Treaty?

Friday, August 24th, 2012

Original Story Via:  The Duck of Minerva


UN members last month failed to reach agreement on the Arms Trade Treaty after a month-long conference.  This is the latest setback in a decades old attempt to control the trade in small arms.  A broad network of states, NGOs, and the UN bureaucracy had pushed for the treaty and earlier measures.  In their view, proliferation of guns contributes to hundreds of thousands of casualties per year in conflict zones and to large numbers of shooting deaths in countries at peace.

But the international campaign to control the illicit trade in small arms has long faced skepticism from certain states, most notably the U.S, but also Russia, China,  India, and others.  For an interactive map of state views on the ATT, click here. Since its start in the early 1990s, the campaign has also faced outright opposition from NGOs such as America’s National Rifle Association.  The NRA and other American gun groups have joined with overseas counterparts to promote gun rights and the right to self-defense.  Most notable is the World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities (WFSA) and more recently the International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights (IAPCAR).  The groups help one another in their own countries and work together to lobby states against international gun control.

It is this network, spanning governments and NGOs, that killed the ATT.  The Obama administration administered the coup d’grace, but other American politicians and civil society groups strongly influenced this decision.  Other states cheered them on, if only privately. All of this holds important  lessons for studying international policymaking and transnational advocacy.

The ATT had been billed as an alternative to a prior, failed try at controlling the illicit trade, in the late 1990s and early 2000s.  This began as the Cold War ended and ethnic warfare became the fear du jour of the early ’90s (as terrorism is today), with gun proliferation blamed for much of the bloodshed.  The Bush administration gutted that attempt in 2001, using a UN conference’s consensus rules to allow only the nonbinding Programme of Action on Small Arms (PoA).  The PoA was so weak that a key proponent of small arms control, Human Rights Watch, dubbed it a “program of inaction” and shuttered its campaign.  Nonetheless, this zombie policy—alive on paper but in reality dead—lurched along until 2006, when the U.S. finally killed the PoA completely at another UN confab.

The ATT was supposed to be different, negotiated only by likeminded states and without the consensus rules that allowed key opponents to block an effective PoA.  In the Bush era, this seemed the best that could be achieved, given the close ties between gun groups and the U.S. administration.  But keeping America out of the ATT negotiations would have led to another form of zombieism—a key arms exporter not part of the treaty, notwithstanding the fact that the U.S. already has some of the world’s toughest export controls.  Thus when the Obama administration took office and expressed interest in the ATT, members of the ATT coalition opted to allow it in, accepting its demand that consensus rules again be followed and U.S. laws be used as a basis for negotiations.  (At the time, a number of activists raised red flags, warning that it could end with the ATT’s failure, but to no avail.)

From the start, American gun groups decried the ATT because of its supposed threat to American gun rights.  State negotiators did their best to reduce controversial issues.  And by the end of the conference last month, a cascade of some 90 states supported the text.  But opposition remained strong in many states, particularly to the marking of ammunition and to sales of guns to nonstate actors.  In the U.S., opposition was particularly ferocious, as encapsulated in a letter signed by 51 U.S. Senators, including Democrats, expressing “grave concern” about the “dangers” to U.S. sovereignty and individual rights under the Second Amendment.  The Senators, voicing the views of American gun groups, warned that the treaty’s draft text could force the U.S. to monitor and control domestic transfers, to maintain records of imports and shipments, and to increase regulations to prevent transfers to illicit or unintended end users.

Farfetched?  Although the intent of the draft was clearly to control the illicit international trade, its terms, if broadly construed, could be read in these ways.  And there is little doubt that in an issue as hot as guns, American control advocates would have read them in this way, to score points and influence judicial and legislative outcomes.  The real menace to American gun rights is doubtless small, given the power of the Second Amendment and the fact that, even if the U.S. had signed, the 51 Senators opposing the draft, meant that the ATT could not be ratified.  But the vehement opposition is nonetheless explicable as part of the bitter warfare between gun and gun control proponents in the U.S.

Ultimately, in an election year, the Obama administration bowed to these pressures and refused to agree to the final draft of the ATT.  Some gun groups celebrated this “grassroots victory” for the right to self-defense, but others, like a commentator at Ammoland, were more cautious: “We cannot view this as a victory for us because the Treaty has not been abandoned. Nor can we view it as a defeat for its proponents—merely a temporary setback.”

Indeed, it is likely that some form of ATT will be reintroduced at the next UN session, and it is possible that a substantial number of states will agree to controls.   Whatever the precise outlines of the final ATT, there are some broader lessons here:

  • States remain key players in transnational advocacy networks.  Focusing on the NGOs, as much of the academic literature does, is too narrow a perspective.
  • NGOs and civil society networks nonetheless influence states, especially democratic states.  But they probably do so more through everyday lobbying at home, than by efforts in UN hallways or in some kind of transnational normative space.
  • International civil society, just like domestic civil society, is ideologically diverse and conflictive.  Conservative groups are powerful there, as activists in the trenches well know.  It is by no means the exclusive preserve of progressive groups, notwithstanding scholars’ focus on them.
  • As a result, zombie policy and failed policy are far more common than policy successes—although, as the gun control case shows, one network’s failure is usually another’s triumph.  As scholars, we can learn a great deal by dissecting the corpses and living-dead that strew policy battlefields.  By contrast, to focus only on the relatively few policies that stagger, battered and bruised, off the field (typically to face further attacks in ongoing policy wars) is misleading.

Finally, the requisite plug:  For more on battles over transnational gun control—as well as lots more on conservative transnationalism, policy conflict, and zombie policy—see my new book, The Global Right Wing and the Clash of World Politics.


Governments not people craft UN Arms Trade Treaty

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Original Story Via:

By Joseph P. Tartaro

Executive Editor

Perhaps the United Nations should have a motto that reflects its focus on “government stability” and the balance of power between the people of the world and their respective governments.

I’d suggest the UN consider clearly stating, “The most despicable government we’ve ever known was pretty good.” If you need evidence beyond the fact that the lambs have been feeding at the same trough as the crocodiles all of these years, just look what the UN did as the much anticipated and dreaded conference on a binding Arms Trade Treat (ATT) began in July.

With the shadow of Syrian repression cast across most news media in the world and clouding the ATT talks, the UN turned to Iran to help negotiate a global arms treaty in a move that is drawing scorn and ridicule around the globe. But apparently not among the striped-pants diplomats meeting in New York City.

The appointment was made by members of the UN Conference on the ATT shortly after the month-long conference began in July. The committee to which Iran was appointed is tasked with coming up with a treaty regulating the international trade of conventional small arms and, proponents hope, ammunition.

“Right after a UN Security Council report found Iran guilty of illegally transferring guns and bombs to Syria, which is now murdering thousands of its own people, it defies logic, morality, and common sense for the UN to now elect this same regime to a global post in the regulation of arms transfers,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a non-governmental monitoring group based in Geneva.

“This is like choosing Bernie Madoff to police fraud on the stock market.

And the UN’s scandalous choice of Iran is exactly why we fear that Syria’s declared bid for a UN Human Rights Council seat is not impossible.” The 15-nation committee is led by Argentina, which serves as president, and includes the US, Iran, China, and Russia as nations that serve as vice presidents.

UN Watch called on UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon to condemn the decision to name Iran to the committee.

“He should remind the conference that the Security Council has imposed four rounds of sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt its prohibited nuclear program, and that Iran continues to defy the international community through illegal arms shipments to the murderous Assad regime,” Neuer said.

US officials played down the significance of the appointment.

“Obviously we oppose (Iran’s appointment), but it’s a symbolic position with little impact on a month-long negotiation that must be decided by consensus,” one senior State Department official told Fox News.

“It will ultimately face the approval of the United States regardless of which country holds one of 14 powerless vice president positions. At that point, we will be looking for an arms trade treaty that makes the legitimate global weapons trade safer by bringing the rest of the world’s arms trade regulations up to the high US standard.” However, two weeks into the deliberations on the ATT, there seems to be a wide divergence of position by different governments. There is no guarantee the negotiations now in progress will produce a treaty, let alone a good one. In February, preparatory talks on the ground rules for this month’s talks nearly collapsed due to procedural wrangling and other disagreements.

In the end, the US and other countries succeeded in ensuring the treaty must be approved unanimously, so any one country can effectively veto a deal.

In spite of Iran and Syria, there are still deep divisions on key issues to be tackled in the treaty negotiations, such as whether human rights should be a mandatory criterion for determining whether governments should permit weapons exports to specific countries.

China wants to exempt small arms, while several Middle East states oppose making compliance with human rights norms a mandatory criterion for allowing arms deliveries. Meanwhile, Canada wants to exclude civilian small arms and ammunition altogether.

Britain has joined France, Germany and Sweden in calling for a solid, effective and legally binding treaty.

According to Peter Brookes of the Heritage Foundation, a treaty would damage US foreign policy and prevent it helping friends such as Taiwan. But he noted the treaty was not yet a done deal.

“Diplomats will natter away about it all month over cappuccinos in Turtle Bay,” he wrote. “But the White House isn’t doing the country any favors by playing footsie with a UN effort to take aim at our liberties and disarm our foreign policy.” Meanwhile, many organizations opposed to the treaty have been allowed to speak at the UN, and more than 130 congressmen, led by Rep.

Mike Kelly (R-PA), signed a letter sent to President Barack Obama in early July expressing their opposition to a UN arms trade treaty if it violates US gun owner rights and sovereignty.

The letter includes specific demands— that the treaty leave out small arms and ammunition and recognize an individual’s right to self-defense.

The Obama administration has claimed that there are safeguards to their treaty approach, but the safeguard is insufficient for opponents of the US participation, not least because UN talks invariably involve compromise.

“The administration swears they have a whole bunch of red lines, and they will block consensus if anyone crosses them,” said a government relations consultant as senior associate with the Commonwealth Consulting Corporation.

“But the dynamics of international negotiations are that once you get 90% of what you seek, you say, ‘Maybe there is a way we can finesse the final 10%.’ ” A clause permitting arms transfers solely between UN member states would allow UN member China to object to US arms sales to Taiwan, a non-UN member that China considers to be a renegade province.

This would be highly problematic for the US at a time when Beijing is engaged in an unprecedented arms buildup.

Another fear is that Arab or other states critical of Israel may use any treaty language on human rights standards to argue against US arms transfers to the Israeli government—as they currently use the UN Human Rights Council to condemn Israel.

US gun lobby concern focus on the emphasis the treaty places on governmental— as opposed to individual— rights to guns, according to Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president.

“They’re trying to impose a UN policy that gives guns to the governments— but the UN doesn’t in turn make moral judgments as to whether these governments are good or bad,” he said.

“If you’re the government, you get the guns, if you’re a civilian, you don’t.

This will just end up helping evil governments and tyrants.”


Pakistan – Extortion, killings: Businessmen may take up arms for their defence

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Original Story Via:  The Express Tribune

KARACHI: Office-bearers of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Thursday said they would take up weapons to defend themselves if law enforcement agencies failed to end extortion, targeted killings and kidnappings for ransom.

Addressing the business community and media in the presence of Sindh Inspector General of Police Fayyaz Ahmed Leghari at KCCI, former KCCI president Siraj Kassam Teli said he would quit chamber politics for good if the poor law and order situation persisted after Eid.

“Enough is enough. We’ve lost patience with the government as well as the Sindh police,” said Teli, who is also the chairman of the Businessmen Group, whose favoured candidates have won KCCI elections unopposed for many years. KCCI is the largest chamber of commerce and industry in Pakistan with over 18,000 members.

Taking a cue perhaps from the influential gun lobby of the United States, Teli said he was going to ask every businessman to carry arms and be responsible for his own security. “I’m in favour of a free-for-all. A criminal wouldn’t have the courage to pull a gun in a crowded bazaar if no gun rules existed.”

Calling Interior Minister Rehman Malik a “liar,” Teli said the federal and provincial governments, along with the Sindh police, had shown little willingness to curb rising incidents of extortion so far.

Expressing his dismay over the frequent use of unregistered mobile phone SIMs to send death threats to the business community, he accused the federal government of criminal negligence and deliberate ineffectiveness.

Responding to the comments of Teli, Sindh IGP Leghari said the biggest challenge facing the provincial police was extortion. Kidnappings for ransom and street crimes are the next priorities of the police department, he said.

“I’ve proposed that neighbourhood committees should be formed in all markets where members of traders’ associations, in cooperation with police personnel, take care of law and order,” Leghari said.

India – Delhi women gun for arms licences

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Original Story Via:  The Times of India

NEW DELHI: It could be a new measure of women’s emancipation or just a passing fad, but Delhi Police has been stumped by the huge number of working women seeking gun licences. The trend is partly a response to the city’s lawlessness but may also reflect the growing need of women to be in control, claim senior officers.

In the past two years, Delhi cops have received over 900 applications for guns from women. While year 2010 saw around 320 applications, the figure had grown to around 500 in 2011. But it’s not only the numbers that’s a break from the past. There’s a change as well in the reasons cited by women for bearing arms.

“Women earlier mostly cited the inheritance clause – saying their fathers or husbands had a licence which they want to continue holding. Many women applying under this clause were proxies for men who themselves would not have got a licence. But of late women are citing ‘self-defense’ to apply for a licence,” said an officer in the licencing department.

In general, 20-22% of all applicants are now women. The officer said 27 licences were issued to women in 2010. Of these, 17 were those who had applied under the inheritance clause. In 2011, 33 women were granted gun licences, 12 of whom had cited self-defense as a reason.

Till July this year, five women have been granted licences on the basis of personal threats and six on the inheritance clause. In 2010 and 2011, over 600 rejected applications were rejected as no “personal safety threat was assessed”.

Rajya Sabha MP Renuka Chaudhry, herself a gun licence holder, was recently quoted as saying that women need guns more than men “who flaunt the weapons at weddings”.

Mridula Nandy, who unsuccessfully attempted to get a license last year, expresses a similar view. “They kept on asking what do I have to fear. Well, I stay in a place where I am taunted on the roads. At night, I feel unsafe. I will not necessarily fire at someone but a gun boosts confidence,” she said.

Interestingly, even as Indian shooters are doing reasonably well at the Olympic Games bagging silver and a bronze, some women are also applying for gun licences to pursue sport. While two women were granted license under the sports quota, the number doubled in 2011. This year, three women have already been granted licences for pursuing shooting.

In general, police are accused of being too strict while granting women licenses, with the age old inheritance clause still being is the surest way of acquiring a licence. Some allege “a recommendation from a higher up” is crucial in securing a licence.

Cops deny the charges, claiming the criteria for both sexes remain the same. “We grant licenses on three accounts. We check whether the woman has to travel alone at night, whether she is being stalked or harassed or whether she visits a crime-prone area,” said a senior police officer.

He added, “India cannot be seen as a state that promotes guns, unlike some western nations. We will ask everyone to go through the necessary checks and balances.”

UN ATT: Anti-gunners not finished with push for global gun control

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Original Story Via:  Dave Workman, Seattle Gun Rights Examiner

Despite Friday’s breakdown on the global Arms Trade Treaty, international gun control proponents are determined to push their agenda, according to a report carried in the Saturday issue of the Seattle

Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Bellevue-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, watched it all unfold at the United Nations, tipping this column early in the day that the United States would not be signing on, as American anti-gunners had hoped. He told Examiner via e-mail and telephone that the ATT’s momentum hit a massive speed bump because the final draft of the treaty was not produced until late in the day.

Anti-gunners are blaming the National Rifle Association for riling up its members, but that’s hardly the entire story. It’s just that the NRA is an easy target. The NRA did a remarkably effective job alerting its members, and NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre left no doubt when he spoke at the U.N. that his organization would fight this treaty with every available resource.

Amnesty International’s Suzanne Trimel, quoted by the Huffington Post, accused the NRA of “spreading lies” about the treaty.

“Basically,” Trimel reportedly stated, “what they’re saying is that the arms trade treaty will have some impact on domestic, Second Amendment gun rights. And that is just false, completely false.”

Gottlieb’s CCRKBA also mounted a massive grassroots effort to thwart the treaty, and gun owners responded by calling Capitol Hill. This resulted in a groundswell of gun owner fury over a document that was far too much in flux. One wonders what Trimel might say about that organization.

And in the background, domestic firearms and ammunition manufacturers were none-too-thrilled with the proposed treaty, either because it could have had a severe impact on their international business. Likewise, European gun makers were not happy because they sell a lot of firearms here in the United States and elsewhere.

This column’s revelation that the treaty would create a new gun control “secretariat” — translation: a new international bureaucracy — raised even more alarms. That detail was buried several pages back in the treaty draft, and as the saying goes, the Devil is in the details.

The meetings actually went on for about three weeks with little or no movement until the past few days. Gottlieb, who was at the U.N. with his wife, Julianne Versnel, both told Examiner that many people were frustrated at the process. Because the final treaty draft was not delivered until late Thursday afternoon, people simply did not have the opportunity to study it. Versnel noted that other countries — China and Russia most notably — threw up roadblocks as well.

Global gun control proponents are determined to bring this treaty proposal back to the table in September. They are an unhappy lot, so much so that Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA, felt compelled to say this:

“This was stunning cowardice by the Obama administration, which at the last minute did an about-face and scuttled progress toward a global arms treaty, just as it reached the finish line. It’s a staggering abdication of leadership by the world’s largest exporter of conventional weapons to pull the plug on the talks just as they were nearing an historic breakthrough.”—Suzanne Nossel, quoted by USAToday.

The irony of this statement is perhaps most stunning to American gun owners, who see the Obama administration as the archenemy of gun rights. It was, after all, President Obama who appointed two liberal anti-gunners to the U.S. Supreme Court. It was Mr. Obama who provided last-minute cover to embattled Attorney General Eric Holder in his effort to withhold documents from the Fast and Furious investigation. It was the president who said in 2009 that he supported the ATT and indicated he would sign it.

Now the president is taking a verbal beating from those with whom he might be most closely allied, both politically and philosophically.

Victoria Nuland, spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton’s State Department is quoted by the Associated Press story that appears in the Seattle She reportedly said the U.S. — meaning the Obama administration — wants another round of negotiations next year, as in “after the November election.”

Gun owners are coming to full realization just how important the election is, not only on domestic issues but also on an international scale. Because this treaty still has a genuine possibility of resurrection, it remains a threat and in the collective mind of the firearms community the most effective way to stop it is to replace the administration that wants to sign it.