Original Story Via: TheGunMag.com
New York, NY—The UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was discussed at length with testimony from both pro and anti-gun groups during the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly’s 67th session.
On Nov. 7, a resolution was passed for a second ATT conference beginning March 18. The UN already spent 11 weeks in meetings for the ATT with four Preparatory Committee meetings leading toward the final failed ATT conference last July. The General Assembly will consider the resolution; it’s likely that it will be approved.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) were scheduled for Oct. 29; however, the UN was closed due to Hurricane Sandy. Statements for all NGOs were delivered in written form to the delegates. The NGO statements to the UN against guns were juxtaposed against looting in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, with many local New York and New Jersey citizens unable to protect themselves due to some of the most strict gun laws in the country. TheGunMag.com (TGM) outlined the tragic irony of the situation here: SAF: Post-Storm Brooklyn Looting Shows Importance of Gun Rights.
The Second Amendment Foundation delivered its remarks to the UN with other groups as detailed in a previous TGM stories here: SAF, others weigh in on new round of UN gun control talks, and SAF Statement to UN Stopped by Storm, Still Carries Powerful Message. SAF also addressed the UN’s Programme of Action in August defending the human right of self-defense.
At the first committee meetings, the right to keep and bear arms in self-defense was not discussed. Canada reaffirmed the right of its citizens to own and use firearms for sporting purposes. The delegates focused primarily on consensus, negotiation, and implementation. The case was made for expansion of the scope and parameters of the ATT document from July 2012. Of particular note were points made about registration, tracing, and tracking of guns and ammunition. An official version of the meeting is available here.
The draft ATT in July didn’t win any acclaim from any Second Amendment or self-defense rights groups. That’s not stopping NGO’s like Control Arms from claiming the July draft of the ATT was “missing pieces.”
The following are statements from the Defense Small Arms Advisory Council (DSAAC), the World Forum on Shooting Activities (WFSA), the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI), the Manufacturers Advisory Group to the World Forum on Shooting Activities, and the International Committee of Museums and Collections of Arms and Military History.
TheGunMag and IAPCAR were among the first to make the July 24 initial draft and final UN ATT proposal publicly available. More information about the ATT will be reported as it becomes available on TheGunMag.com, SAF.org, and IAPCAR.org.
Statement of the Defense Small Arms Advisory Council
First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly
29 October 2012
Thank you, Mister President, for the opportunity to offer remarks from the perspective of an industry that manufactures military small arms and light weapons to enable states to meet their legitimate national security and law enforcement requirements and does so in strict compliance with the most demanding and rigorous export licensing system in the world. We believe that a legally binding Arms Trade Treaty that subjects all military arms manufacturers and exporters world-wide to a similar level of regulation can be of benefit in combating the armed violence caused by the absence of common standards governing the international trade in military weapons. It is difficult to ignore the fact that the vast majority of states currently lack even the most rudimentary export licensing systems, much less comprehensive ones with correspondingly effective enforcement mechanisms. The ATT was, we thought, to begin addressing that lack.
From our perspective as observers of the negotiations conference in July, it appears that the chief obstacle to achieving consensus on an effective treaty text was the insistence by some on creating an overly broad document, one that went well beyond the committee’s mandate, irrespective of the fact that such language was unlikely to ever be agreed and, even if agreed, effectively carried into force. A treaty can be likened to a vessel: it can carry only so much freight and attempting to overload it with too many things that, although desirable to some are objectionable to others, poses the risk of sinking it. In July, the vessel was overloaded and nearly sank; fortunately, it was still tied to the pier and may yet set sail, once the excess weight is removed.
It is our understanding that the sole purpose of the ATT is to legally compel state-parties to adopt procedures for determining if a proposed export of military arms meets basic, internationally agreed standards. Treaty language that is narrowly focused on achieving that single purpose is, we believe, well worth working for and still well within reach. It is to be hoped that future negotiations retain that focus and that the perfect—in the eyes of some—does not once again become the enemy of the good.
Statement From: Manufacturers Advisory Group
Ted Rowe, Chairman
I am Ted Rowe, Chairman of the Manufacturers Advisory Group to the World Forum on Shooting Activities (WFSA). Speaking on behalf of the world’s leading manufacturers of civilian firearms and ammunition, we must insist on the recognition of civilian possession and ownership of firearms and ammunition in accordance with national law.
Unless and until the United Nations in its various proposals recognizes the right of lawful civilian ownership and possession of firearms, we will continue to use all efforts necessary to have civilian ownership recognized by the United Nations, and we will continue to oppose those proposals that do not recognize this right.
The Arms Trade Treaty to be negotiated in March of 2013 should clearly indicate that the small arms included are for military use and that civilian firearms are to be excluded.
The Program of Action as it evolves should also recognize the legitimate, legal use of firearms by civilians as well as their right to own and possess firearms within their national laws.
It is interesting to note that each and every member state of the United Nations is a legitimate importer of civilian firearms and ammunition. These imports are not for the military! These imports should not be subject to or included within an Arms Trade Treaty.
Civilian use of firearms is seen internationally in Olympic Games, in hunting around the world, in sport shooting and in recreational use.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, there is the human right of self-protection and self-defense and the need and use of firearms to fulfill that right. This right is indisputable and is documented throughout history.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman
Statement from World Forum on Shooting Activities (WFSA)
UN General Assembly First Committee
October 29, 2012
Mr. Chairman, I am Herbert Keusgen, the President of the World Forum on Shooting Activities. We represent the hundreds of millions of hunters, sport shooters and civilian firearms owners throughout the world. The WFSA is an ECOSOC NGO and has participated in UN meetings relating to small arms and light weapons for fifteen years.
Today I would like to make three brief comments, reflecting the views the civilian firearms community, on the Programme of Action, the possible Arms Trade Treaty and ISACS.
On the Programme of Action, Mr. Chairman, we continue to remain disappointed that the POA has failed to recognize the legitimacy and utility of civilian firearms ownership. Mr. Chairman, there seems to be a continuing misconception on the part of the UN and supporters of the POA, that civilian firearms are a bad thing. Sixty percent of the small arms in the world are legally owned by civilians. These arms are not a problem. The problem lies with inadequate control of military arms.
Mr. Chairman, let’s say something positive. At the last week’s UN meeting on the UN Firearms Protocol in Vienna there was an acknowledgment of the legitimacy of civilian firearms use. This was a positive step and we commend this action.
Mr. Chairman, in regard to a possible Arms Trade Treaty, we continue to be told that the intent of an ATT is only to control military small arms. Therefore, we request the UN to state this in such an ATT in clear and unmistakable language. For example, it could use the definition of SALW used by Germany, and I quote:
Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), are weapons and weapon systems which were originally manufactured or which were rebuilt according to military standards and requirements for use as war matériel.
This would clearly exclude civilian firearms from the scope of the ATT.
Mr. Chairman, the ATT has been extremely politicized in one particular jurisdiction. This is a question of perception, Mr. Chairman. As long as the ATT is perceived, let me underline perceived, as affecting civilian firearms, it will not be accepted or ratified in that jurisdiction. This situation can be changed by the specific exclusion of civilian firearms that we have suggested.
Mr. Chairman, let me briefly comment on International Small Arms Control Standards or ISACS. We are extremely disappointed in the ISACS process. If the POA has had a bias against civilian firearms, ISACS has been almost overtly anti-civilian firearms. The ISACS process has failed to respond appropriately to the legitimate concerns and requirements of the civilian user community and the firearms manufacturers. This must change, Mr. Chairman.
Let me conclude, Mr. Chairman, by saying that notwithstanding our criticisms today we remain willing to cooperate on all fronts and venues whether it be the POA, the Firearms Protocol, the ATT or ISACS. We can be a valuable ally to efforts that address the problems of misuse or a steadfast opponent of any effort that restrict the lawful use of civilian firearms.
For further information contact Thomas Mason at +1 503 998 0555 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
United Nations General Assembly, 67th Session
New York, 1 November, 2012
Statement by Richard Patterson, Managing Director
Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, Inc
Thank you, Mr. President, for the opportunity to speak today. My name is Richard Patterson. I’m the managing director of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute–also known as SAAMI. Since 1926 we have created the safety and reliability standards for the design, manufacture, transportation, storage and use of firearms, ammunition and components. We are an accredited standards-setting organization. Whether you realize it or not, every country in this room benefits from our standards. Firearms and ammunition that follow SAAMI standards are being used in every corner of the world to promote peace, enhance economic stability, responsibly manage wildlife populations, provide recreation, teach life-skills, promote the camaraderie of sporting competition, and protect lives.
The small arms issue is complex, since small arms are tools that can be used for the greater good of humanity, and misused by those who choose to commit acts of violence. Because of this duality, uninformed decisions can cause more harm than good.
SAAMI has at its disposal many of the world’s leading ballisticians, structural engineers, chemists, statisticians, logistics experts, and metallurgists specializing in firearms and ammunition. We are in the unique position of providing valuable technical, factual, and science-based input into the small arms discussion and debate. We also have access to the real-world practical knowledge of the major manufacturers of firearms, ammunition and components, meaning we can add a practical perspective to the debate.
We welcome the opportunity to share our expertise and experience. We would like to participate in any discussions resulting from the PoA call for a technical and industry working group and—for that matter—in any other discussions on this important issue.
Statement From: The International Committee of Museums and Collections of Arms and Military History (ICOMAM)
I am Ken Smith-Christmas, representing ICOMAM, The International Committee of Museums and Collections of Arms and Military History. ICOMAM is an organization with approximately 260 institutional and individual members in some 50 countries, and includes such museums as the Royal Armouries in England, the Royal Dutch Army Museum, the Royal Belgian Army Museum, and the Smithsonian Institution. For the past fifty-five years, we have served as the advocate for museums around the world that specialize in arms and military history. We are an international committee of ICOM, the International Council of Museums, which works closely with UNESCO.
Nearly every history museum on earth has firearms in its collections. Most of these arms are antique, or, by their historical association, are considered to be curios. Many of them are inoperable relics, due to their physical condition. Some are excavated, archaeological, material. The ability to acquire and exchange them is essential to the scientific, cultural, and economic functioning of our museums. We are concerned that the provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty will affect these types of firearms. For instance, under proposals currently being reviewed, a museum would have to seek the permission of the exporting country, the importing country, and the transit countries to acquire and transport an antique arm or weapon, even for a temporary loan or a research project.
We submit that antique arms and museum weapons pose no threat to anyone. Rather, they are part of our common cultural heritage and current regulatory structures are adequate to control them. Additionally, in today’s climate of constrained budgets, it is an unnecessary financial burden on museums and governments to require stringent controls over the antiques, curios, and relic arms commonly found in museums.
In short, we believe that there is simply no need for antique and museum arms and weapons to be included within the scope of an Arms Trade Treaty. We therefore request that they be exempted from the scope of any Treaty.