June 21, 2006

UN Press Release On Small Arms Conference

Well that's what it seems like to me.

Small arms: the global trade in life and death By Jeremy Lovell Tue Jun 20, 8:26 AM ET

"LONDON (Reuters) - From Africa to Bosnia, back to Africa and on to the Middle East -- the often secretive flow of guns and bullets follows the world's cycle of wars."

So the guns just lurk around waiting for a war to break out, then they rush in?

"In the middle are the faceless brokers who have facilitated the multibillion-dollar trade since the 1950s and 1960s when the United States and the Soviet Union used go-betweens to arm their allies to fight the Cold War by proxy."

So they lurk waiting for a war to break out then bum rush a faceless broker?

"Small arms in Europe are not as cheap as they used to be at the end of the 1990s ... partly because the initial flood of weapons from former East Bloc armories has slowed down,' said one European arms broker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals from his small, tight-knit community."

As it should be. Whenever my local FFL jacks up prices he avoids me for a few days, hoping I'll forgive him.

"But there are still ample supplies left around. For AK-47s particularly all the old East Bloc countries still have some surplus new weapons and, of course, there are lots of used ones,' he told Reuters."

Whew. That talk of arms floods slowing down had me worried. No matter how "progressive" the UN types are there are certain laws they can't deny, such as supply & demand. With a decent supply & moderate demand that means availability will be good & price should be reasonable. Shame we have that government imposed distortion in the market over here.

"The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, unleashed not only a flood of cheap arms but also the giant aircraft needed to carry them to wars in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East."

Buy a boxcar of AK's & we'll throw in the plane for free? Is that what he's saying?

"From the steamy jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo to the dangerous streets of Baghdad and the drug-ruled favelas of Rio de Janeiro, guns acquired illegally spread terror, contribute to poverty and halt development."

They also spread home protection, contribute to the sense of security many folks have & have been known to halt genocidal & demicidal actions by governments. & for the record I would say that governments would be a more direct cause of the maladies Mr. Lovell laments.

"Ahead of a United Nations meeting in New York from June 26 to July 7 to discuss this global trade, calls are growing for tighter regulations -- especially on the activities of brokers."

As are calls for the u.S. to leave the U.N. over foolishness such as this.

"Arms supply networks are increasingly sub-contracted and increasingly opaque and out of control,' small arms trade expert Brian Wood told Reuters."

Out of whose control? The U.N.'s? May it always be thus.

"Some of the drivers of the international arms trade today are individuals with laptops, mobile phones, air tickets and shell companies. They travel around,' he said."

Well they kinda have to. If they stayed in one place some idiot with dreams of a socialist utopia would probably try to tax them out of business.

"The International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), a group of agencies including Amnesty International and Oxfam, estimates the global gun trade is worth around $4 billion a year, of which up to $1 billion may be illicit."

Illicit by whose standards? If I recall didn't Amnesty International denounce the idea of sending in arms to some folks in Africa who were being murdered by their own government because they might retaliate? & they speak of things being illicit?

"Prices for guns vary enormously from the $350-$400 per new Kalashnikov with three magazines, quoted as an example by the broker, to anecdotal stories of the same rifles changing hands for a tenth of that price in African war zones."

$400 for a full auto AK & 3 mags. Oh but for the grace of our unconstitutional gun laws go I. $40 for a full auto AK & 3 mags? I fear the market would self adjust before I could run down to the dealer.

"And if guns are available, they will be used."

Sigh. Grasshopper, how many times have we been through this? Go re-read you Reagan-san:

"Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have."

"In places like northern Kenya, we are seeing pastoralists using AK-47s to dispute access to the diminishing number of watering holes, whereas in the past they might have talked it out or at least used less lethal means,' said Anthea Lawson, a spokeswoman for IANSA."

Or they might have used more barbaric &/or destructive means. Swords, bombs, poison, etc... & it's entirely possible that because the parties know they are both armed that violence was not used as often as it otherwise would have been.

"It used to be said that the main victims of gun violence were women and children. That is not true. It is young men who are both the victims and the perpetrators,' she said."

That's not true either. the main victims of gun violence are peaceful gun owners. After all when a gun is used in a crime it's often used to enact some friggin’ law that at minimum inconveniences us while at most it denies us the tools for self defense. I'd estimate in the u.S. for every gun used in a confrontational crime there's a few thousand gun owners who may suffer to some degree because of the legislation enacted to keep criminals from acting like criminals by decree. So far very few gun owners have died because of this (though there have been a few) but it'd be justifiable to say that non violent gun owners are the biggest group affected by violence where firearms are used.

"IANSA wants countries to draw up global standards to regulate the international transfer of weapons and gun possession among civilians. It also wants to incorporate armed violence prevention into development projects and funding."

They want to create standards of victim disarmament. Don’t let them tell you any different. Note that line about "...gun possession among civilians..." "Civilians" means you. "Guns" means anything that can fire a projectile including air rifles. "Regulate" means prohibit. Since most countries do have laws concerning gun possession by civilians it would seem that IANSA wants a uniform, international standard, like "no civilians may possess firearms".

"All guns start as legal weapons ... what happens after that (is) where the trouble begins,' said Lawson, adding that 60 percent of guns were in civilian hands."

No; the trouble begins when those 60% of the civilians are disarmed. Then the government realizes it can do whatever it wishes t those civilians since they're defenseless.

"Less than 40 countries have any laws regulating arms brokers -- and most laws exclude extraterritoriality. That allows the brokers to operate with impunity because they rarely touch or take ownership of the arms,' she said."

So the first prong of their attack is to go after the supply side of the equation. Face it, if we didn't have gun stores we'd have more expense & less selection in what we'd buy. Course she seems to neglect the idea that we'd just make our own if it came down to it.

But blaming the "arms broker" is an old game over here. Luckily we are wising up to that & fighting it.

"In a May report, Wood said weapons were increasingly either destined for or diverted to countries under arms embargoes or to insurgent and criminal groups. Complicating the picture, governments are cutting their armed forces and relying on private suppliers to transport their weapons with few controls."

So when something is banned its demand increases? Ya don't say...

"At the outset of the Bosnian civil war, the first flow of weapons was from Lebanon -- where the fighting had slowed -- to the Bosnian Muslims facing a well-armed Serbian army,' the European arms broker said.
In his May report, Wood said that after the war some 200,000 of those guns were shipped on behalf of the U.S.
Department of Defense to
Iraq for the new army, with at least one shipment going astray, probably ending up with insurgents."

One shipment lost in a war zone isn't that bad. It's not great but it's not unexpected.

"Iraq and Afghanistan are sucking in arms. The Middle East is a big problem,' the arms broker said. 'Sudan is very active too -- but they have also built up their own production."

It is a big problem. I mean have you seen AK prices over here lately? & don't talk to me about 7.62x29mm ammo. 20 cents a round?

Iraq & Afghanistan are two countries with internal warfare going on. Of course they're going to need arms & munitions. But aside from effecting u.S. prices the problem isn't that they're buying up arms & ammo, it's that they have people within their borders who are trying to kill them. & with all the talk of improvised explosives I don't think cutting the flow of small arms would make things much better.

"The United States is the biggest exporter of guns followed by Italy, Brazil, Germany, Belgium, Russia, China, Britain, Austria and Japan, according to IANSA."

(Waits for the cries of "We’re Number One!" to die down...)

Note that all the countries listed have a decent lead in freedoms enjoyed by their citizens over countries where they claim arms proliferation is a problem. Not that all those nations are perfect but it does stand to reason that countries where arms use & manufacture as well as design are not seen as inherently evil are usually (not always but usually) in a better position to avoid enslavement.

"But then there is a vast gray area, not only with nations or their proxies trading third-party weapons but with others subcontracting production elsewhere in the world."

Gray area? Have there been mixed reports of the quality of the Sudanese AK's? Or do they just use a lighter Parkerizing than expected?

"A country like China can argue it doesn't need to control arms because all its production is for domestic use. But it licenses manufacture in countries like Zimbabwe and those guns are then sold across the continent,' said Lawson."

Actually they just mentioned that China was a big exporter. In fact China has for decades supplied its allies with arms & more recently sold them on the market.

Still the point I think they're trying to make is simply "more guns is bad". In which case I sincerely hope we're the naughtiest nation on earth for a very long time.

Wood said the United States also had 'a loose interpretation of what they think are ethical transfers of arms."

Wait a damn minute. A friggin' Englishman is telling us that our ethical interpretation is a bit loose?

Here's what I've found on Mr. Wood:

"Brian Wood, Amnesty International Research and Policy Manager for Military, Security and Police Transfers, is Amnesty International's foremost expert on arms brokering and transporting. Wood co-authored The Arms Fixers, a book detailing the methods used to traffic arm and has written numerous reports on the human rights impact of the largely unregulated arms trade. Wood has also served as an expert witness to the U.N. on arms embargo violations. His most recent January 2006 AI report focused on the effects of arms trafficking in the Democratic Republic of Congo. "

I'd say the reverse is true; it is Mr. Wood & his employer that have an ethical issue that could use some shoring up. Despite Amnesty International's & the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights I submit that their efforts to make us unable to defend those Rights are an immoral affront to the purposes that they claim to hold dear.

But an Englishman? C'mon - this is from the land that is establishing strict controls on the dangerous objects known as kitchen knives, beer glasses & paper airplanes.

Before any Englishman mentions an ethical problem in the u.S. relating to arms maybe they should think about where their ethical solutions have led them.

"They are basically out to get former Eastern bloc -- Warsaw Pact -- equipment as cheap as possible to the people they regard as their allies,' he said."

& Mr. Wood thinks we should be looking out for deals for our enemies?

"Sometimes they are armed opposition groups like the Northern Alliance (in Afghanistan) and so on, and they have been using over the last decade or more the cheap surpluses in the Balkans -- Albania, Bosnia, Serbia -- and they have used other people in the region to move it,' he said."

Note the mention of "surplus" arms. "Cheap" no less. I have the distinct feeling that "surplus" means at least one more than the government of a country needs for its police & military. Cheap undoubtably means something that a non government person (i.e. civilian) could actually afford.

"The United States says it is committed to stemming the flow of illicit arms. Earlier this month, the State Department said the United States had demonstrated this commitment through national practices and diplomatic engagement around the world."

I do wish someone would explain exactly what an "illicit" arm is? Arms may be used for illicit purposes, but an object itself cannot have a moral capacity.

In short this news piece is just free press for the UN's small arms conference in New York. The only non pro-gun control view that was offered was a snippet or two from an "arms broker" & those snippets were used to make their case, not offer a differing view. Expect more of the same over the next few weeks. Do not expect anyone from the JPFO or GOA to be asked for their input.

Posted by Publicola at June 21, 2006 06:24 AM | TrackBack

This is as full of holes as everything else the UN talks about or acts on

Posted by: El Cid at July 1, 2006 07:40 AM
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