NRA Kicks Off UN Arms Treaty Conference With Fearmongering

Marking the start of July's month-long United Nations conference to negotiate a small arms treaty, National Rifle Association top lobbyist Chris Cox authored an op-ed for The Daily Caller making the hysterical -- and baseless -- claim that the treaty could “seriously restrict your freedom to own, purchase and carry a firearm.” In fact the proposed treaty seeks to regulate the international trade of firearms - curtailing the illicit arms trade that keeps weapons flowing to human rights abusers -- and will not change ownership rules domestically.   

Cox also made the reality-defying argument, citing conditions in the Sudan, that a treaty to restrict illegal small arms proliferation would harm citizens in countries ruled by human rights abusers. To the contrary, the United Nations has noted that "[m]ore human rights abuses are committed with small arms than with any other weapon."

But according to Cox's theory “the world's socialist, tyrannical and dictatorial regimes” will use the treaty to “implement international gun registration requirements, bans on commonly owned firearms, tracking and registration of ammunition purchases, and create a new U.N. gun control bureaucracy” thus fulfilling “President Barack Obama's vision for America.” 

This laughable conspiracy has no place in reality. Top officials from the United Nations, the United States, and other high profile supporters have repeatedly and clearly said that the treaty does not aim to restrict anyone's “freedom to own” a gun.  Indeed, the U.N. General Assembly's resolution on the treaty makes clear that countries will “exclusively” maintain the right within their borders to “regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership, including through national constitutional protections on private ownerships.”

The chair of the Preparatory Committee for the UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, Ambassador Roberto García Moritán of Argentina, has stated that the definitive goal of the small arms treaty “is to try to have common standards to be applied by all countries when they export or import weapons.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has also said that treaty is “opportunity to promote the same high standards for the entire international community that the United States and other responsible arms exporters already have in place to ensure that weaponry is transferred for legitimate purposes.”

A senior policy advisor to the humanitarian organization Oxfam America has also pushed back against claims that the treaty has the nefarious purpose of interfering with domestic law:

“No government is discussing a treaty that would ever impact the right to bear arms, nor require regulation of domestic sales of arms,” said Scott Stedjan, a senior policy adviser at the relief group Oxfam America. “This is totally about international transfer of arms so that they don't go to human rights abusers.” 

U.S. gun owners have nothing to fear from a treaty that essentially seeks to apply the standard for importing and exporting firearms already in place in the United States on a worldwide scale.

And there is no reason to believe that domestic manufacturers alone would be unable to ensure that the United States continues to have the most well-armed private citizenry in the world. According to the most recent figures available over 5.5 million firearms were manufactured in the United States in 2009 (The U.N. conservatively estimates that 7.5 to 8 million small arms are manufactured worldwide each year). Less than 200,000 of the firearms produced in the United States left the country as exports.

In his column, Cox then really reached in an attempt to find further justification for opposition to the treaty. In a display of stunning ignorance, he argued that increased ownership of firearms in war-torn nations would provide citizens greater security. 

Rep. [Raul] Grijalva [D-AZ] should consider the plight of good people in countries like the Sudan, where it's virtually impossible for an average citizen to legally own a firearm for self-defense.

He, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton should open their eyes to the unspeakable human rights atrocities that exist in their gun-ban utopia. They ought to see how far their gun-confiscation agenda resonates with hundreds of thousands of defenseless Sudanese men, women and children who live in constant fear of being beaten, raped, sold into slavery or murdered. 

In fact, the detrimental effect of upping the influx of small arms into troubled regions has been well-documented by the United Nations: 

The illicit trade in small arms, light weapons and ammunition wreaks havoc everywhere. Mobs terrorizing a neighbourhood. Rebels attacking civilians or peacekeepers. Drug lords randomly killing law enforcers or anyone else interfering with their illegal businesses. Bandits hijacking humanitarian aid convoys. In all continents, uncontrolled small arms form a persisting problem.


The majority of conflict deaths are caused by the use of small arms, and civilian populations bear the brunt of armed conflict more than ever. Also, small arms are the dominant tools of criminal violence. The rate of firearms-related homicides in post-conflict societies often outnumbers battlefield deaths. These weapons are also linked to the increasing number of killings of UN employees and peacekeepers, as well as workers from humanitarian and non-governmental organizations.

Small arms facilitate a vast spectrum of human rights violations, including killing, maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, enforced disappearance, torture, and forced recruitment of children by armed groups. More human rights abuses are committed with small arms than with any other weapon. Furthermore, where the use of armed violence becomes a means for resolving grievances and conflicts, legal and peaceful dispute resolution suffers and the rule of law cannot be upheld.