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By Larry Pratt

July 22, 2006

The 2006 gun control confab at the UN has mercifully come to an end - for now. As usual, our ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, was a bright light in a dark swamp.

The U.S. State Department sent the Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security, Robert Joseph, to the UN Conference. He was not a bright light.

Joseph won kudos from many Second Amendment supporters, but I do not think they read far enough.

There were some good things that Joseph had to say. He told the conference attendees that the US would not accept any agreements that would deny law-abiding citizens their right to bear arms in accordance with their national traditions. He said the U.S. would continue to oppose regulation of ammunition. He also reiterated the U.S. position that the oppressed have a right to defend themselves against tyrannical and genocidal regimes. The U.S., therefore Joseph concluded, opposes a blanket ban on arms for non-state actors.

Telling the representatives of tyrannical and genocidal regimes that the U.S. does not support banning guns from getting to their victims may not muster much support among those folks. Undersecretary Joseph might have had more success if he had delivered this message to the Department of Homeland Security which still regards any taking up of arms for self defense as a terrorist act.

But elsewhere in Mr. Joseph's remarks, the assumptions of gun control advocates comes through his words. Joseph said the U.S. supports "steps to implement the recently concluded agreement on the marking and tracing of weapons; effective controls on weapons transfers - both import and export - as well as robust end-user certification; strengthening controls over international brokers; effective stockpile management of weapons under state control; and the destruction of government-declared surplus and illicit weapons."

Joseph's measures have been failures when applied domestically by countries, including the U.S. What makes anybody think that a sovereign country that wishes to sell guns abroad will be stopped by a treaty - even if they have signed it? All that these restrictions have done in the past is keep guns from getting into the hands of the oppressed who seek to defend themselves - whether it is against street thugs or government thugs.

If the U.S. really believes that the oppressed have a right to defend themselves, destroying firearms is about the same as merely telling a hungry man to go get some food. The U.S. could have saved millions of lives by simply slipping guns into Rwanda when the Hutu government was preparing to wipe out 800,000 Tutsis. By the same token, guns in the hands of the Sudanese in the south of the country would have helped save some 2,000,000 lives snuffed out in the Muslim genocidal jihad conducted by the dictatorship ruling the country. The UN has stood by and watched genocide take place right under their noses. The U.S. should not even ignore genocide when it is so easy to help victims who only need guns to help themselves.

Destroying guns is an effective way of saying that one believes that guns cause crime, or that guns cause genocide. We could have sent anti-gun maven Sarah Brady to make this point to the UN crowd and saved the taxpayer the expense of sending the Undersecretary.

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At a more fundamental level, just attending such a conference sends the wrong signal. It suggests that there is something legitimate about a group that wants to disarm the victims of the world and tighten the grip of oppressive governments on their subjects through gun control. A public statement issued by the Secretary of State - or better yet, the President himself denouncing the conference and the conference assumptions would have been a much better course of action.

� 2006 Larry Pratt - All Rights Reserved

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Larry Pratt has been Executive Director of Gun Owners of America for 27 years. GOA is a national membership organization of 300,000 Americans dedicated to promoting their second amendment freedom to keep and bear arms.

GOA lobbies for the pro-gun position in Washington and is involved in firearm issues in the states. GOA's work includes providing legal assistance to those involved in lawsuits with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the federal firearms law enforcement agency.

Pratt has appeared on numerous national radio and TV programs such as NBC's Today Show, CBS' Good Morning America, CNN's Crossfire and Larry King Live, Fox's Hannity & Colmes, MSNBC's Phil Donahue show and many others. He has debated Congressmen James Traficant, Jr. (D-OH), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Vice President Al Gore, among others. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country.

He published a book, Armed People Victorious, in 1990 and was editor of a book, Safeguarding Liberty: The Constitution & Militias, 1995. His latest book, On the Firing Line: Essays in the Defense of Liberty was published in 2001.

Pratt has held elective office in the state legislature of Virginia, serving in the House of Delegates. Pratt directs a number of other public interest organizations and serves as the Vice-Chairman of the American Institute for Cancer Research.

The GOA web site is: Pratt's weekly talk show Live Fire is archived there at:  

E-Mail: [email protected]

Either Pratt or another GOA spokesman is available for press interviews.









If the U.S. really believes that the oppressed have a right to defend themselves, destroying firearms is about the same as merely telling a hungry man to go get some food.