UN Gun Grab Goes Bust: Despite Abundant Anti-Gun Sentiment at the UN's Recent Small Arms Conference, Anti-Gunners Ran into a Serious-If Temporary-Setback

Article excerpt

The gun grabbers were crying in their lattes over how the United Nations Review Conference on Small Arms had "failed" because the conference had not only not led to finalized plans to end civilian ownership of guns, but U.S. government officials stood strongly on the side of gun owners, and Kofi Annan, the head of the UN, seemed to cave in to public pressure and cancel the UN's confiscation plans. Rebecca Peters, director of International Action Network on Small Arms, called U.S. government demands "crap" when she heard the news that the United States had effectively put a stop to even a follow-up conference on small arms, saying the conference had been "hijacked by a small number of states, notably the U.S."

If all were as it seems, this would be a huge victory for gun owners and their main ally, the National Rifle Association, which has been urging its millions of members to write their U.S. representatives and the UN to protest the conference. But the apple going to the apparently victorious champions of the Second Amendment will not be very tasty once it is bitten into.

Pleasing at First Glance

The tone of the conference was evident from the outset. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan stressed in his remarks at the opening of the two-week long conference: "Let me ... note that this Review Conference is not negotiating a 'global [gun] ban,' nor do we wish to deny law-abiding citizens their right to bear arms in accordance with their national laws."

And just to stress the point, Annan added: "I would want to repeat, because there are people around who either have not heard this or do not want to hear: we are not negotiating a global ban, nor do we wish to deny law-abiding citizens their right to bear arms in accordance with their national laws. Our energy, our emphasis, and our anger is directed against illegal weapons, not legal ones." Gun banners must have been in shock because Annan's words were a complete reversal from the lead-up to the original 2001 Small Arms conference, where Annan enthusiastically endorsed a report of the UN "Group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms" which suggested that "States should work toward ... the prohibition of unrestricted trade and private ownership of small arms and light weapons."

On the second day of the conference, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert G. Joseph laid down the Bush administration line: "The U.S. Constitution guarantees the rights of our citizens to keep and bear arms, and there will be no infringement of those rights. The United States will not agree to any provisions restricting civilian possession, use or legal trade of firearms inconsistent with our laws and practices." Not an auspicious start for the gun grabbers at this conference, the five-year follow-up to the initial 2001 conference that envisioned eventual abolition of the right to keep and bear arms.

If this were the sum total of actions at the conference, this would indeed have been momentous--but it wasn't.

More Than Meets the Eye

The gun grabbers, true to form, had a trick up their sleeve. The rabbit they had hidden, waiting to be pulled out, was contained in the initial draft "outcome" document, which had a "Plan of Action" of 14 pages of deliberately crafted vagueness, which pledged to meet every two years until 2012 for "action implementation meeting[s]." In other words, the gun grabbers revised their goal for this conference and planned to walk away with guarantees for another three swings at their agenda. …