A UN conference on curbing illegal global trade in small arms came under fire from US gun owners who fear losing their weapons, UN organizers said.
The two-week conference, which kicks off here next Monday, is meant to review a program agreed by UN member states five years ago to stem the illegal global trade in small arms, which kill an estimated 1,000 people a day.
However, members of the National Rifle Association (NRA), the lobby of US gun owners, view the drive as a threat to what they call their constitutional right to bear arms and a first step toward a global treaty to ban gun ownership by civilians.
"I have received over 100,000 letters from some (of the) US public, criticizing me personally saying, 'You are having this conference on the 4th of July, you're not going to get our guns on that day'," Sri Lanka's UN ambassador Prasad Kariyawasam, who will chair the conference, told reporters Wednesday.
A UN conference on curbing illegal global trade in small arms came under fire from the National Rifle Association (NRA), the lobby of US gun owners, who view the drive as a threat to what they call their constitutional right to bear arms and a first step toward a global treaty to ban gun ownership by civilians. Picture shows visitors at the NRA annual convention in May checking out handguns. (AFP/File/Jeff Haynes)
"It's a total misconception," he said. "First of all, July 4 is a holiday for the UN and we will not be meeting on that day," he added.
"The program of action does not refer to legal possession of small arms by any entity. It is only about illegal possession and illegal trafficking," Kariyawasam noted.
Organizers make it clear that the United Nations is not seeking a global ban on gun ownership by civilians and that each country is sovereign and has its own laws governing gun ownership.
But in an interview with The Economist weekly last month, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre claimed that the United Nations aims to take away Americans' guns because it is a club of governments, some of which want to "strip opposition forces of the means to challenge their authority".
"So, after we are disarmed, the UN wants us demobilized and reintegrated. I can hear it now: Step right this way for your reprogramming, sir... Once we confiscate your guns, we can demobilize your aggressive instincts and reintegrate you into civil society. "No thanks," he added.
LaPierre, whose new book is titled "The Global War on Your Guns: Inside the UN Plan to Destroy the Bill of Rights," claimed that "individual gun ownership is the "ultimate protection against tyranny".
Copyright © 2006 AFP