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The U.S. and the U.N. and small weapons.
July 9, 2001 1:17 PM   Subscribe

The U.S. and the U.N. and small weapons. We seem once again at odds with the world as we defend the right to bear arms.
posted by Postroad (20 comments total)

 
..The vast majority of arms transfers in the world are routine and not problematic..
Well, that's comforting.


We?
posted by the_ill_gino at 1:33 PM on July 9, 2001


And on this issue, I'm glad for it. Perhaps the UK, Australia, France, and other more civilized nations might want to examine how their own violent crime rates went up after they passed more draconian restrictions on private gun ownership.

And how does "the UN" demonstrate its objection to the rights of free people to defend themselves? By staging a gun burning. It's a sign of ignorance and a brutish mind to burn books, but when we burn guns, it's A-OK and 100% politically correct.

I almost wish I hadn't just bought a car; otherwise I might do as many people are planning to do today, and counter gun-burning day with gun-buying day.
posted by jammer at 1:38 PM on July 9, 2001


(Actually... I don't almost wish. I love my new car. It just would be nice to have $700 or so sitting around right now. heh. :)
posted by jammer at 1:43 PM on July 9, 2001


Wow, the US seems pretty backwards nowadays what with their retraction of support on the Kyoto agreement, their opposition to landmine treaties, their recruitment of underage (under 18) people into armed forces and now this.
posted by dithered at 1:52 PM on July 9, 2001


Hear, hear, Jammer. Guns, for all their demonization, are simply tools. They can be used for good (to hunt for food, to defend one's person or that of others) or for ill (robbery, etc.) If everyone who owned a gun exercised the same amount of caution with it that one would exercise with a similarly dangerous tool, like a sabre saw, then we wouldn't be talking about it. But people, by and large, are both lazy and narcissistic - lazy enough to be lax about safety, and narcissistic enough to believe that accidents can never happen to them.

But more than that, for Americans the gun is a symbol of our freedom, not only as a nation but, more importantly, as individuals. The best defense against tyranny is a armed individual who is willing to fight for liberty - his personal liberty, that of his neighbors, and that of his countrymen. Against such people, no despot can stand.

If you want evidence of the fear that an armed populace strikes in the heart of dictators, you need only look to what tyrants do when the come to power; they invariably disarm the citizenry. Think on that the next time some UN official or (jeez louise) some other country calls for Americans to give up their weapons.
posted by UncleFes at 1:55 PM on July 9, 2001


You can have my portable missle launcher when you pry it from my cold dead fingers.

Sorta loses that "symbol of freedom" ring, don't it?
posted by ahughey at 2:20 PM on July 9, 2001


If you want evidence of the fear that an armed populace strikes in the heart of dictators, you need only look to what tyrants do when the come to power; they invariably disarm the citizenry.

Funny, then, how the warlords of west Africa invariably arm them. Especially children. And that's because the world's arms dealers are oh-so eager to supply them.

Against such people, no despot can stand.

Dontcha love the Old Testament stylistics? Must be Charlton Heston's influence.

Frankly, I'm sick of hearing the canards of this debate from both sides. Bolton's got a very valid point: that internal regulation isn't necessarily going to prevent the illicit supply of military-grade weapons to war zones. Especially when official arms transfers to Africa are more than sufficient to militarise the continent in a fashion that would be inconceivable within the US itself. (UK arms dealers are equally complicit, with the aid of government export credits. Ethical foreign policy, my arse.)

But because US administrations of any colour are petrified of the gun lobby, nothing will be done to track the export of military hardware to "questionable" regimes, since any preventative steps will be spun as an attack on personal liberty.
posted by holgate at 2:31 PM on July 9, 2001


We seem once again at odds with the world as we defend the right to bear arms.

Oh well. Too bad, so sad. Quantity does not equal quality.
posted by aaron at 2:32 PM on July 9, 2001



You can have my portable missle launcher when you pry it from my cold dead fingers.

Sorta loses that "symbol of freedom" ring, don't it?


Not at all. Freedom is worthless if the people who posess it do not have the desire and the ability to fight for it. If either of those is missing, you are free merely at the whim of the potential despots you are naming to be your leaders. If your government can't trust you with a "portable missile launcher", why should you trust it with one?
posted by jammer at 2:34 PM on July 9, 2001


Oh, analogy time: beyond the levying of excise duty, legislation on smoking won't affect the way in which major tobacco companies tacitly encourage cigarette smuggling around the world.

Same applies here, just with sub-machine guns as the delivery mechanism.
posted by holgate at 2:45 PM on July 9, 2001


"You can have my portable missle launcher when you pry it from my cold dead fingers."

How about, "You can have anything I have when you pry it from my cold dead fingers, as only actions should be illegal, never objects or ideas."
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:48 PM on July 9, 2001


Surely the police force in war-ridden African nations are defending their citizens just fine; no need for citizens to defend themselves down there, no sirree! Uhm.

Disarm honest, law-abiding citizens, and let the guerrillas roam free. With this kind of logic, no wonder Sudan got on that 'human rights' commission, and the U.S. didn't.
posted by frednorman at 3:06 PM on July 9, 2001


fred: where do you think the guerrilas got the guns from in the first place?
posted by will at 3:12 PM on July 9, 2001


By extension of the above statements: if I was sufficiently wealthy and/or motivated, would it be perfectly OK for me to, say, keep a low-yield nuclear weapon in my garage or a bathtub of anthrax in the guest room? Or is there some magnitude at which you would draw the line on such things? (Honest curiosity on my part; no baiting intended.)
posted by youhas at 3:35 PM on July 9, 2001


Disarm honest, law-abiding citizens, and let the guerrillas roam free.

Doesn't work that way: west Africa in particular has been a dumping ground for military weaponry, which has kept it on a near-permanent war footing. So the slogans of the NRA, suited to more mundane issues of personal defence in peacetime, don't really apply: demilitarisation isn't the same as disarmament.

Closer to home, consider the position in Northern Ireland, where the IRA benefitted from US-based fundraising and arms smuggling. Are the British government's demands that the paramilitaries put their weapons beyond use the attempts of a tyrannical government to disarm its citizens? Hardly: they're an attempt to demilitarise an region subject to the rule of the gun.
posted by holgate at 3:55 PM on July 9, 2001


Funny, then, how the warlords of west Africa invariably arm them. Especially children. And that's because the world's arms dealers are oh-so eager to supply them.

And first they fill them with genocidal or religious propoganda so that the arms will be used in to eradicate rival groups in the region they inhabit. But you do quote it accurately, the WORLD'S arms dealers. It is very rare that you see them carrying an M-16 because they are difficult to use and maintain (about 8 million have been manufactured and are still in use as a main battle rifle.) Usually it's an AK "compatible" (with an estimated production of 35-50 million units) from any one of the dozens of countries who've produced them because they are super reliable, simple to use and require little maintainance to remain operational (I keep mine squeaky clean with a nice sheen of oil on it because it's just the right way to do it!) If it isn't, it's the castoffs of the French, British, Germans, Spaniards, Italians, etc. who sell their last generation weapons to anyone who'll take them - the German H&K G3 and Belgian FN-FAL (and contracted variants, the Spanish CETME, etc.) alone account for over 15 million small arms which have been superceded by newer weapons and sold off.

The issue that the NRA and people like myself are upset about is that the UN is NOT targeting illegal sales of small arms at all - they are targeting civilian ownership of arms by using the seemingly innocuous phrase (to anyone ignorant of arms history and design) ''specifically designed for military purposes.'' That would mean that overnight myself and people like me whose greatest run-ins with the law have been overdue parking tickets would become felons for owning guns which would be legal in every respect except that some countries military used them, or weapons of similar operation, at one point or another - which is just insane. I think I own one gun which was not at one time a military design and at least 80% of my miltary issue weapons are far outclassed by current civilian arms.

The United Nations maintains illegal trade in small arms is a billion-dollar-a-year business and directly or indirectly responsible for more than 1,000 deaths a day.

1,000 deaths a day. That is about the same number of deaths that can be attributed to transportation accidents worldwide in a day - does this mean that we shouldn't be able to travel by any other means than walking for fear of the loss of life?

As a gun owner and pacifist, I feel our government should do everything in it's power to help combat ILLEGAL weapons trading but that is not what the UN is interested in. The United Nations wants to define what is legal in OUR country - and that my friends should scare you.
posted by RevGreg at 4:05 PM on July 9, 2001


This is a storm in a teacup. When it comes to small arms, the UN has no legislative authority, and no executive force, and that's precisely why it ends up with lumpy attempts at political compacts: it's arguing from weakness, not strength, which is why it shouldn't be read as "big bad world government". Were there effective multilateral agreements between sovereign states to enforce selective embargoes to war zones -- in essence, to prevent the transport of weaponry by the plane-load -- it would provide a far better guarantee against the escalation of conflicts.

As I said: you don't stop cigarette smuggling rings by stopping people from smoking in public places.
posted by holgate at 4:31 PM on July 9, 2001


The international context: ". . . lack of regulation, porous borders, poor infrastructure and toothlessness of UN arms embargoes all work against attempts to clamp down on the supply of small arms to Africa."
posted by holgate at 5:38 PM on July 9, 2001


And a late addendum: arms makers willing to accept voluntary program to control gun trade. One that appears to work within current US regulations.
posted by holgate at 9:09 PM on July 15, 2001


I have no interest in doing so, but people who want to take away a person's right to own a few guns (with reasonable safety and certification regulation) scare me. If the rest of the world is opposed to this, F-em.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:34 PM on July 15, 2001


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