The U.N. Regime-Protection Plan

Memo to independent-minded peoples of the world: stock up on guns and ammo now.

The U.N. is near agreement on a measure to restrict small-arms sales to "rebels and resistance groups" the world around. Forget Senator John McCain’s incumbent-protection plan currently being marketed as a "campaign finance reform bill." The U.N. small arms restrictions would be a genuine incumbent-protection plan.

As the Washington Times reports,

The proposal, to be finalized at a U.N. conference in New York in July, would ban the export of many small arms and light weapons to rebels and resistance groups, which could, according to U.S. officials, be defined to include Taiwan.

A working definition of proscribed weapons adopted in 1997 includes: rifles and carbines; assault rifles, revolvers and self-loading pistols; light machine-guns; and portable missile launchers.

Thank God there was no U.N. in 1776, and thank God that France and the Netherlands, at that time, were happy to run guns and gunpowder into the Caribbean for pick-up by American "rebels and resistance groups" fighting a war of secession against Mother England.

To imagine the world after the U.N. leaves only governments and their armies with weapons, consider the cautionary tale of Father Murphy and the disastrous Irish Rebellion of 1798, when Irish Catholics dutifully turned in their weapons to their English government — in exchange for death at the hands of English troops.

The Times also reports that "The European Union, Japan and the Nordic states are generally the most enthusiastic about strong measures on global gun control."

Big surprise there. The European Union, Sweden and Japan are not exactly known for their laissez-faire attitudes or their traditions of individual freedom. Forget allowing private ownership of the means of self-defense. Some European countries have shown a tendency not to let men and women retain ownership of the frontal lobes of their brains, their reproductive organs, or their dignity. And I’m not referring to the Nazis. Among the nations of the E.U. and "the Nordic states," for example,

  • Sweden lobotomized "mental defectives," and force-fed candy to "mental defectives" in order to rot their teeth in dental experiments
  • From 1934 to 1974, Sweden sterilized "mental defectives," including one woman who couldn’t read a blackboard (because she didn’t have glasses) and was deemed to be retarded
  • Norway, Denmark and Switzerland also sterilized "mental defectives;" according to the Washington Post, so did Austria and Belgium
  • Norway sanctioned the physical and sexual abuse of Norwegian children fathered by occupying German troops during World War Two

And let us not forget the recent British prosecution of the heinous crime of selling bananas by pounds and ounces, rather than the E.U.-mandated metric system of weights and measures. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the United States is a lawless Wild West of capitlaism: the Americans actually allow — allow! — people to label goods in both metric and "English," er, Imperial measurements (perhaps pounds and ounces must now properly be referred to as American measurements).

On the other hand, perhaps there is at least a small surprise in the European and Japanese opposition to a free market in firearms. For a number of years, Winchester and Browning — two revered names in American gun-making — produced rifles in Japan.

It must also be noted that Winchester and Browning are owned by the U.S. Repeating Arms Company, which American Rifleman, the official journal of the National Rifle Association, nonchalantly reported in a review of some new shotguns to be owned by the Wallonian Region of the Belgian government.

Germany, Austria, Italy and Belgium, by the way, sell a large number of guns to the American market. Some of the most popular pistols with American law enforcement officers are made in Austria (Glock). Germany (Heckler & Koch, Walther, and Mauser, to name but a few major brand names) also has a considerable market share in the United States. Italian shotgun makers (Beretta, Benelli, and Franchi, for example) also do a brisk business in the United States.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you, since the U.N. measure, as proposed, would have a severe impact on the practical ability of American hunters, sportsmen, and shooting enthusiasts to pursue their enjoyment of the shooting sports.

As one American gun lobbyist told the Washington Times,

"The problem here is that almost all hunting rifles are of military design. The current definition covers just about every hunting rifle in the world," said Tom Mason, the U.N. lobbyist for the World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities. The forum is a coalition of 30 groups, including the National Rifle Association and several American and European firearms manufacturers. "Under this proposal, civilian possession would be banned," said Mr. Mason. Mr. Mason said the U.S. delegation is seeking language in the agreement that "is an attempt to distinguish between the commonly owned Remington 700 or Winchester 70 and an AK-47."

First, for those who have no idea what Mason is talking about, many hunting rifles use a bolt action, which means that to load and unload the chamber, the shooter must manually lift a bolt, pull it back, and then push it forward again. The free market being nothing if not dedicated to efficiency, the highly efficient bolt action created by a man named Mauser is used in many of the hunting rifles of the world, such as those produced by Sturm Ruger & Company.

But before the Mauser action was used in hunting rifles, it was the basis for a massive percentage of the military rifles produced in the world, as far back as the Spanish-American war of 1898. For that matter, a great number of hunters use old military rifles, sometimes "sporterized" with new wooden stocks or other accessories, for hunting. More than a few men I know use vintage American .30-06 Springfield rifles — which were carried by American troops throughout the 20th century.

Second, is it supposed to be surprising that the U.N. measure aimed at inhibiting the sale of guns to "rebels and resistance groups" would have the effect of destroying the free market in hunting rifles? It is simply not credible to claim that the destruction of the market in firearms is an unintended effect of the U.N. proposal.

Third, what does the U.S. delegation to the U.N. have against the AK-47? I have fired an Egyptian version of the venerable, field-tested AK-47, produced by a company called Maadi. It is a rough gun to fire; much like a Ford Escort allows the driver to feel and hear more of the bumps on the highway than does a Mercedes E-class sedan, the AK-47 allows the shooter to feel and hear more of the recoil from the shots than do other rifles such as the Ruger Mini-30.

Fundamentally, however, the AK-47 does nothing different than the Winchester Model 70 or Remington Model 700 bolt actions, other than that the AK-47 pulls the bolt for you; it is "semiautomatic" or "self-loading," i.e., you must simply continue to pull the trigger, and it will continue to fire so long as there are rounds in the clip.

But fundamentally, a bolt action rifle and a semiautomatic rifle do the same thing: they propel a small piece of lead over great distances to hit a target.

So why discriminate against the AK-47? At most, these enable the U.N.-targeted "rebels and resistance groups" a slightly faster rate of fire.

Worse yet, where do the E.U., Japan, and "the Nordic states" get off dictating matters of firearms ownership to the rest of the world? The Washington Times, quoted above, refers to the enthusiasm for "strong measures on global gun control" by this group of nations. Suddenly, my disgust at American hegemony in the post-Cold War world is lessened. At the same time, this latest act of U.N. hubris has rekindled my longstanding desire to see the United Nations: a) kicked off American soil and b) dismantled.

In closing, here’s a thought problem. Try to figure out what the American representative told the Washington Times in the quotation below:

"Third-party transfers are a major source of the diversion of legal arms into the illegal market," said Donald McConnell, the head of the U.S. delegation.

He said that exporting countries must oversee the ultimate destination of their weapons and demand the authority to approve any transfers to other parties.

In other words, the U.S. delegation proposes that when the United States sells guns to another country, that other country cannot re-sell the guns without American permission.

So much for free trade and national sovereignty.

Mr. Dieteman is an attorney in Erie, Pennsylvania, and a PhD candidate in philosophy at The Catholic University of America.

Political Theatre

LRC Blog

LRC Podcasts