THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 129, July 9, 2001
SHAME, SHAME, SHAME!
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HERE'S SOME AMMO FOR YOU!
"Obviously we consider ourselves a socially conscious business, but this was a business decision made in the best interests of the company." -- Kmart spokeswoman Julie Fracker
Lori V. Gagnon
Frank O. Jones
U.N. Investigating Whether E-Mails From U.S. Gun Enthusiasts a Security Threat
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The United Nations is investigating whether irate letters and e-mails it has received from American gun enthusiasts protesting an upcoming conference on the illicit trade in small arms constitutes a security threat.
The world body has received about 100 complaints from Americans who erroneously believe the conference seeks to infringe on their right to bear arms, U.N. Undersecretary-General for Disarmament Jayantha Dhanapala said Thursday.
The gun-rights enthusiasts did not threaten physical harm to any U.N. official but their protests were strongly worded and were turned over to U.N. security experts, Dhanapala said.
"What concerned me was that there was a widespread campaign," he said. "It's essentially a U.S.-based phenomenon."
The letters and e-mails started arriving in recent weeks, some signed and some anonymous, alleging that the U.N. is attempting to take away guns from people, in conflict with the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens, Dhanapala told a news conference.
"I did not get the impression that they have been orchestrated. They are differently worded, but clearly they all labor under the same misapprehension about the conference," he said.
Dhanapala's office released a pamphlet called "Setting the Record Straight" to address the misconceptions they contained and explain what the conference hopes to achieve.
"The focus of the conference is on illicit trade in small arms, not the legal trade, manufacture or ownership of weapons," the pamphlet stressed. "The U.N. conference will have no effect on the rights of civilians to legally own and bear arms."
Delegates are expected to adopt a program of action, which is not legally binding, to curb and ultimately eliminate illegal trafficking in assault rifles and other small arms and light weapons that have become the weapons of choice in many internal conflicts around the world.
About a dozen gun-rights groups, including the U.S. National Rifle Association, are among the 177 non-governmental organizations accredited to attend the two-week conference which begins Monday.
Dhanapala said these groups will be able to attend all public meetings and will choose several representatives to make statements at one official conference session.
U.N. conventional arms expert Joao Honwana, a top conference official, said it wasn't up to the U.N. Department for Disarmament Affairs to judge whether the e-mails and letters constituted a threat.
"The objective of turning these e-mail and communications to the U.N. security was precisely to allow them to assess them from a perspective of threat to the organization of the conference and take whatever necessary measures they found appropriate, which is what they are doing," he said.
"They analyze those communications, and I'm sure that they will contact with the appropriate institutions in this country and elsewhere to make sure that whatever is said in those e-mails does not represent a major threat to the organization of this conference," Honwana said.