Over at Opinio Juris, Kenneth Anderson has an interesting post about last week's gun control conference at the United Nations, and a New York Times puff piece thereon, written by C.J. Chivers.
After noting U.S. concerns about the U.N. becoming a venue attacks on American gun ownership, the Times explains:
The United Nations and advocates of gun control have said that such fears are unfounded, and that there is no effort to impose standards on nations with traditions of civilian ownership, or to restrict hunting. The programs, they said, apply largely to areas suffering from insurgencies or war.But Anderson was present at the beginning of the U.N.'s campaign against gun ownership:
"States remain free to have their own national legislation," said Daniel Prins, chief of the Conventional Arms Branch of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs. "This document does not try to regulate gun ownership in the whole world. This is an instrument that allows states to focus on regions in conflict and the weapons that illicitly get there."
I recall sitting in meetings of landmines advocates talking about where things should go next; I was director of the Human Rights Watch Arms Division, with a mandate to address the transfer of weapons into conflicts where they would be used in the violation of the laws of war, and small arms were the main concern. I was astonished at how quickly the entire question morphed from concern about the flood of weapons into African civil wars into how to use international law to do an end run around supposedly permissive gun ownership regimes in the US.Despite protestations to the contrary, the U.N. remains quite interested in constricting lawful gun ownership. Consider, for example, the United Nations Disarmament Programme's publication, How to Guide: Small Arms and Light Weapons Legislation. The publication touts the importance of international "harmonisation" of gun laws. According to the United Nations:
I dropped any personal support for the movement when it became clear, a long time ago, that it is about controlling domestic weapons equally in the US (or, today, even more so) as in Somalia or Congo.
Citizens should only be allowed to own guns if they are given a government permit, and the permit should only be issued if there is a "good reason" for posssession or or "genuine need." In particular, permits to own guns for self defense should not be issued unless the applicant proves taht he is in immediate danger.In The Human Right of Self-Defense, 22 BYU Journal of Public Law 43 (2008), Paul Gallant, Joanne Eisen and I detail some of the U.N.'s activities against domestic gun ownership. These include:
The law require "safe storage", which means that firearms should be disassembled and the ammunition ammo stored separately.
There should be frequent renewal procedures to assure the owner's continued eligibility. A good example is provided by Australia, which for most gun owners (except farmers) requires membership in a sports club, and participation in a minimum number of shooting events annually.
A firearms license should be contingent on the consent of the person's spouse or former partner.
All firearms should be registered on a centralized computer system.
The home and vehicles of a gun owner should be subject to official inspection "at will."
Providing financial and planning support to the proponents of a gun confiscation referendum in Brazil.
Adopting a Special Rapporteur's report declaring that self-defense is not a right, but is a limited excuse for violating the rights of the criminal.
Declaring that insufficient domestic gun control is a violation of current human rights treaties. Under the U.N.'s standards, even the pre-Heller laws of the District of Columbia were so lax as to be international human rights violations, for allowed the possession and use of defensive rifles or shotguns, in business premises, against non-lethal felony attacks such as rape, mayhem, arson, and armed robbery.
Rebecca Peters' organization IANSA (International Action Network Against Small Arms) is the "the organization officially designated by the UN Department of Disarmament Affairs (DDA) to coordinate civil society involvement to the UN small arms process." The official UN Report against self-defense was written by an IANSA member, University of Minnesota Law Professor Barabara Frey.
According to Peters--the head of the organization which the U.N. says represents "civil society" on gun issues, all handguns should be banned, as should all rifles capable of firing 100 meters, as should the defensive ownership of any gun.
It was certainly a relief to find out that the U.N. has no interest in restricting the gun rights of Americans.