U.N. Conference Ending, Freedom Winning!!

As of 6 p.m. eastern time, the word from the United Nations small arms conference is that the conference is concluding with NO final document, and NO plans for any follow-up conference. It was the latter issue that prevented an agreement about a final document. The officials who had been charged by the conference chair with drafting the conference document presented a final take-it-or-leave it document a little while ago; that draft document eliminated various provisions that the U.S. delegation had found objectionable, but also declared that there would be at least two more conferences. The U.S. delegation refused to assent, and so the conference ended with no consensus agreement, and no plans for future conferences. The back-up plan of the international gun prohibition movement, and their many allies within the U.N. and national U.N. delegations, was to give up on significant progress in 2006, but to keep the game going with future conferences, when a more pliant U.S. administration might welcome an international gun control program.

If a few hundred votes had changed in Florida in 2000, or if 60,000 votes had changed in Ohio in 2004, the results of the 2001 and 2006 U.N. gun control conferences would have been entirely different. There would now be a legally binding international treaty creating an international legal norm against civilian gun ownership, a prohibition on the transfer of firearms to "non-state actors" (such as groups resisting tyrants), and a new newspeak international human rights standard requiring restrictive licensing of gun owners. With a Presidential signature on such a treaty (even if the treaty were never brought to the Senate floor for ratification), the principles of the anti-gun treaty would be eroding the Second Amendment, through Executive Orders, and through the inclination of some courts to use unratified treaties as guidance in interpretting the U.S. Constitution.

At the domestic level, the Bush administration has been close to neutral on the gun issue — doing very little to promote or oppose gun control in Congress. One rare exception was that the Ashcroft Department of Justice returned to the historic (pre-LBJ) DOJ position that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right. And of course President Bush has signed all the pro-Second Amendment legislation which Congress has sent him, most importantly the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Firearms Act.

At the United Nations, however, the Bush administration has twice rescued our right to keep and bear arms from destruction.

There are plenty of issues on which pro-Constitution Americans can legitimately complain that the Bush administration has continued or worsened bad policies from previous administrations — such as federal interference in education, erosion of the Fourth Amendment, and allowing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to ignore statutory controls on its behavior. But in regards to the United Nations assault on the Second Amendment, the Bush administration, including John Bolton (in 2001 as Undersecretary of State, and in 2006 as U.N. Ambassador) has performed magnificently. The gun rights activists whose hard work in 2000 and 2004 was the sine qua non of Bush's narrow electoral victories can take satisfaction that their work has, literally, saved the Second Amendment.

Today's victory is extremely important, but it should not be mistaken for a final victory in the international arena. The international gun prohibition lobbies are already looking towards other international fora where they can advance their goals, including their ultimate prize--a binding treaty requiring severe restriction of citizen gun possession. The various U.N. departments which have been providing funding and propaganda for gun prohibition and confiscation will almost certainly continue to do so.

For now, everyone who cares about the right to arms has much to celebrate.

Two of the most important, but less-known heroes of today's victory are Dr. Paul Gallant and Dr. Joanne Eisen, Senior Fellows at the Independence Institute. They have worked relentlessly to give a voice to the victims around the world for whom gun confiscation really was the crucial step to the destruction of all their other rights, or the destruction of life itself — in places such as Bouganville, Uganda, Kenya, Bosnia, and Zimbabwe. Today, the world is a better, freer place because of Paul and Joanne.