MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Yes the gun lobby has enabled the arming of child soldiers -- even younger than 10-years-old --and the deadly raging of local militia wars around the world. No, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is not selling small arms to militias; it is not recruiting child soldiers and giving them guns to fight for "rebel" forces around that commit atrocities; it does not directly sell firearms and weapons to rebel nations that commit massacres of its own people.
But the National Riffle Association has for years held up the United States endorsement of the international Arms Trade Treaty, which would provide a legal framework for limiting the profiteering of weapons that create killing fields, particularly in poorer nations.
Amnesty International is creating a campaign to stop the NRA from blocking the Arms Trade Treaty this time around:
Children -- no matter where they live -- must be kept safe from gun violence. The United Nations is preparing to finalize a treaty that would help to do just that by helping to stem the flow of weapons to human rights abusers. The National Rifle Association (NRA) is standing in the way of these efforts by waging a campaign of misinformation and lies force the U.S. government to oppose the treaty.
Around the globe, over a billion children live in countries impacted by armed conflict that is fueled by small arms and conventional weapons. These children are at grave risk of being abducted and trafficked, used as soldiers and sex slaves, forced from their homes, attacked at school.
â€śThe Arms Trade Treaty represents a call to conscience to the world â€“ and especially to the United States government â€“to protect civilians and help develop a system that would prevent weapons from flowing into a situation where we know lives are at risk,â€ť said Amnesty International's Michelle Ringuette. "The U.S. public must not allow its own leaders to ignore the horrific impact of weapons traded into the hands of despots and tyrants. Would we hand a gun to a rapist, murderer or child abuser? Of course we wouldnâ€™t. But that is what we allow with arms trading with devastating results.â€ť
Amazingly, the Obama White House has not yet taken a position on the next round of treaty negotiations that begin on March 18th. If you counter that the treaty is not yet written so why should the president take a position at this time, then know this: "a round of treaty talks last July ended when the United States stepped away from the negotiating process," according to Amnesty International. The political factor behind the US walking away was, at a political level, the NRA.
As described by Amnesty, "The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is a proposed UN treaty that aims to establish common global standards for how countries import, export and transfer conventional weapons." Sounds reasonable, doesn't it?
But the NRA, ever in need of stoking up the angry paranoia of its members on behalf of the gun industry and for organizational fundraising needs, is claiming â€“ you guessed it â€“ that the Arms Trade Treaty would lead to door-to-door confiscation of guns in the United States. However, the 2012 version of the treaty that the Obama's administration's delegation to the UN abandoned included the provision, â€śthe sovereign right and responsibility of any State to regulate and control transfers of conventional arms that take place exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional systems.â€ť
Meanwhile, even if the Arms Trade Treaty were passed by the UN â€“ and the US delegation is the key hold-up at this point â€“ it may take years to get it ratified by the US Senate where a 2/3's majority is needed.
According to Amnesty International spokesperson Suzanne Trimel (in an e-mail sent to BuzzFlash at Truthout):
The most likely practical effect of the treaty would be to begin to close off some of the loopholes that let unscrupulous arms brokers work their way around discrepancies between various countriesâ€™ national laws on weapons sales and shipments. The NRAâ€™s opposition to the treaty is unfounded, but under â€śrules of consensusâ€ť that have thus far governed the treaty negotiations, a US decision not to support the treaty in the negotiation phase blocks the entire process.
To the extent that the NRAâ€™s rhetoric holds sway with the Senate and the Administration, it doesnâ€™t just affect the US: it affects the whole world. By itself, the Arms Trade Treaty wonâ€™t keep weapons out of the hands of those who would use them to commit crimes against humanity, but it could be one tool â€“ an important tool â€“ for controlling the trade and its pernicious effects on human rights.
The Arms Trade Treaty has gotten little mass media attention because the UN, in general, doesn't receive much coverage. Yet, the NRA has successfully kept the floodgates open for arms being supplied to outlaw governments, militias, mass rapists, and the coerced and vast child soldier market.
Amnesty International provides a background sheet on the role of the NRA in the small arms talks entitled, "The Arms Trade Treaty, Second Amendment and the NRA: Separating Lies from the Facts." One doesn't need to dig deep to know that Wayne La Pierre, chief honcho and for the NRA, is the oracle of mendacity, the chief flamer thrower of these incendiary deceptions.
Meanwhile, child soldiers are forcibly recruited and trained to become numbed robotic killers, women are raped by armed "rebels" and rogue national armies, and civilians wantonly killed â€“ all by killers armed so that the NRA can raise funds and enhance gun manufacutring profits by promoting lies that the Arms Trade Treaty would result in gun confiscation in the US.
Never was there a tighter case to show, due its unstinting and effective opposition to the Arms Trade Treaty, how the NRA supports "the bad guys."
(Photo: Amnesty International)