The National Rifle Association’s Bizarre Colorado Response
The gun-rights group’s Friday night webcast barely touched on the Colorado shooting; most of the show was devoted to bashing the U.N. for trying to curb global arms sales. James Warren reports.
Its report on what anchor Ginny Simone termed “the unthinkable tragic shooting that shocked the country today” lasted 35 seconds. It concluded with word that, “at this hour the NRA is telling all media, including the NRA Daily News, that its policy is that it will have no comment until all the facts are known in this case.”
She then segued to a report about ongoing United Nations negotiations on a global arms treaty to regulate trade in conventional arms. That segment, making clear the anchor’s own outrage with the negotiations, lasted more than 10 minutes.
It was thus far easier to bash the U.N. for its audacity in trying to curb arms sales to wayward nations and faraway criminals than to wonder if there just might be a link between Friday’s tragedy and the easy access to firearms in this country.
The U.N. talks result from years of lobbying by human-rights groups and also mark the Obama administration’s decision to reverse Bush-era policy and to support the negotiations involving 200 nations.
However, amid opposition from pro-gun legislators, the administration has backed off its support of what some see as a quite important provision to also cover trade in ammunition.
The thrust of the U.N. proposal involves a wide range of weapons in a worldwide market thought to be as much as $60 billion a year. The U.S. is the biggest exporter in a system in which only a minority of governments regulate arms dealers, with a variety of regional and multination arms embargoes seen as generally ineffective.
The Christian Science Monitor has put it the overall context succinctly: “While the U.S. and a few other countries have relatively tough regulations governing the trade of weapons, many countries have weak or ineffective regulations, if they have any at all. The result is that there are more international laws governing the trade of bananas than conventional weapons, like AK-47s.”
As far as the NRA newscast was concerned, the “news” was that “the treaty may be in trouble of being approved by July 27, a deadline set by the U.N.”
That didn’t surprise the report’s primary interviewee, former Bush-era U.N. ambassador John Bolton. He proceeded to belittle the slow-moving ways of the organization and added that “August is a sacred month in New York,” with few working at the U.N.
But Bolton fretted that an inability to come to a resolution by month’s end could thus mean that President Obama might swoop in during September, prior to the annual convening of the General Assembly, and influence the final result.
Simone then turned to the NRA’s primary correspondent covering the talks New York, Tom Mason. He’s an official of the World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities. She opened by indicating that Mason had told her that “panic has definitely set in at U.N. headquarters. They realize time is running out.”
Both Mason and Simone derided many elements of the treaty and the views of proponents. Those included linking the internal arms trade with violence against women.
Simon cited unidentified nations she terms “some of the worst human-rights abusers in the world” that were involved in the talks. She wondered how the treaty “will stop the killing and rape of people with no chance to defend themselves.”
The U.N. agenda, she said, is “to disarm people,” implying it would leave the defenseless even more so.
Both Mason and the anchor alleged a de facto media conspiracy of silence in covering the talks.
With one of several rhetorical questions, Simone asked him, “Is it fair to say civilian ownership and ammunition are very much on the hit list?”
“Yes, very much so,” said Mason.
The duo concluded with a broadside against the UN’s record in dealing with human-rights abuses, with Mason claiming, “They’ve never really thought this concept through of stopping human rights abuses.”
“But they have thought about how they can erode the Second Amendment in the U.S.,” he said.
Not mentioned was that the treaty is all about international transfers of weapons, not their internal domestic regulation.