U.N. Eyes Curbs on Owning Firearms

By Pisik, Betsy | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 24, 1997 | Go to article overview

U.N. Eyes Curbs on Owning Firearms


Pisik, Betsy, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


****THE NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION FEARS THE VOLUNTARY MEASURES WILL ERODE AMERICANS' RIGHTS.****

NEW YORK - In an effort to reduce firearm-related crime and violence worldwide, a U.N. commission is drafting recommendations it hopes will curb gun ownership and use.

Although the recommendations are voluntary, the United States' largest gun group, the National Rifle Association, is concerned that it could lead to an erosion of Second Amendment rights.

The draft resolution, passed without objection last month by the 54-member U.N. Economic and Social Committee, encourages member states to consider adopting regulations dealing with the illegal or unsafe use of firearms.

Among the commission's recommendations: licensing of all firearms businesses; creating amnesty programs to encourage the surrender of illegal weapons; mandatory training in handgun safety and storage; setting appropriate penalties for offenses involving illegal use of firearms; and establishing a serial-number system to help track firearms and discourage theft.

The resolution was adopted by the Vienna-based U.N. Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, which is also conducting a survey of member states on various aspects of firearm use and crime. It has yet to be addressed by the Security Council.

The resolution - which also calls for member states to trace illegal firearms and invites Interpol to provide better assististance to members in sharing information - has the support of the United States.

"Generally speaking, the U.S. view is that it would be helpful to have international norms to deal with the import and export and transnational movement of firearms," said the State Department's deputy assistant secretary for narcotics, Johnathan Winer, head of the American delegation to the Vienna crime commission.

"To a very considerable extent, it is my understanding that [the recommendations] are consistent with U.S. domestic law," he said

Versions of most of the restrictions already exist at the state or county level in many parts of the United States.

Eduardo Vetere, who chairs the Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Division in Vienna, said it would be up to member states to decide which resolutions to adopt.

But the National Rifle Association, for one, objects to the commission's recommendations, warning that it is the first step toward an international convention that would be binding and potentially more restrictive than what currently exists.

"Sure, voluntary at this stage," said Thomas Mason, an Oregon lawyer who represents the National Rifle Association at the United Nations.

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