Monday, June 26, 2006

Rights & Wrongs

The UN Small Arms Review Conference continues to generate controversy. MSM stories tend to take the UN's official line that the meeting is only concerned with illegal small arms, e.g. Reuters:

Ahead of the U.N. meeting, the U.S. National Rifle Association, a strong supporter of President Bush, warned its members of a July 4 plot to finalize a U.N. treaty stripping citizens of all nations of the right to own guns -- a charge with no basis in fact.

Americans mistakenly worried about the U.S. Independence Day conspiracy have flooded the United Nations with more than 100,000 letters demanding the nonexistent treaty's defeat.


Annan again reassured the conference that no global gun ban was under consideration.

"Nor do we wish to deny law-abiding citizens their right to bear arms in accordance with their national laws," he said "Our energy, our emphasis and our anger is directed against illegal weapons. Our priorities are effective enforcement, better controls and regulation, safer stockpiling, and weapons collection and destruction."

Just because the official purpose doesn't infringe on legal gun ownership, that hardly means that some participants don't have hidden agendas! Sundry opinion pieces point out those agendas, such as this one by Joseph Klein in FrontPage Magazine, referring to Rebecca Peters, who is Director of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA):
Peters’ strategy, with the help of the chairman of the UN review conference and the Parliamentary Forum, is to enshrine international norms against civilian gun possession in an interpretive document that gun prohibitionists can label ‘customary international law.’ Such a document would legitimize Peters’ dogma that “gun ownership is not a right but a privilege.” IANSA can then use the international norms in our own courts to attack the notion that an individual right to bear arms is enshrined in the Second Amendment. They are counting on sympathetic federal judges, right up to the Supreme Court, to interpret the scope of the Second Amendment’s protections by deferring to ‘international norms’ against individual gun possession. In short, the stealth strategy here is for IANSA to drive the UN review conference’s agenda, obtain the wording they seek on curtailing private gun possession in the review conference’s official Outcome Document that they can point to as an ‘international norm’, and then argue that this ‘interna­tional norm’ should be incorporated into our courts’ interpretation of the Second Amend­ment -- converting a constitutionally protected individual right into a government-bestowed privilege.

Ironically, IANSA is headquartered in London. One of its UK-based member organizations called International Alert showed no compunction at all in boldly declaring that “the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee individuals the right to possess or carry guns.” Apparently some British folks have forgotten from whom we won our freedom — and why we sought it in the first place. We should as a nation celebrate our Declaration of Independence by telling the gun prohibitionists who are assembling in New York from all over the world during our Independence Day holiday to either stay out of our business or stay out of our country.
(Italics in original).

Speaking of Britain, there's a debate on whether they need to legislate a "Bill of Rights" to counteract the more pernicious aspects of the European Convention on Human Rights. From the BBC:
Tory Bill of Rights bid slammed

The Conservatives' plan to replace the Human Rights Act with a US-style Bill of Rights has been described as muddled and dangerous by the government.

Tory leader David Cameron says current legislation is inadequate and hinders the fight against crime and terrorism.

He believes a British Bill of Rights would strike a better balance between rights and responsibilities.

But the Lord Chancellor says Mr Cameron is trying to rewrite human rights because "they seem inconvenient".

In a speech to the Centre for Policy Studies in London, the Tory leader argued that the Human Rights Act had prevented Britain deporting suspected terrorists whatever the circumstances.

It was "practically an invitation for terrorists and would-be terrorists to come to Britain" he said.

One argument is that unless Britain withdraws from the European Convention on Human Rights, the legislation won't really accomplish much. The Daily Mail comments:
[H]uman rights law is a veritable article of faith (and rich pickings) for the many lawyers at the core of New Labour.

Now, however, even Mr Blair seems to be dismayed by its perverse effects — or perhaps it is more accurate to say he is dismayed by the mounting outrage among voters, who are horrified by the way it is thwarting attempts to deal with crime and protect this country against terrorism.

But because human rights are so totemic, he refuses to repeal his own law — not least because we would still be signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights, and so English law could be overturned as a consequence of rulings made by the Strasbourg court.

And he is certainly not prepared to countenance leaving the Convention.

So he has taken refuge instead in the weaselly excuse of blaming not the law, but the way it is being interpreted.

This cop-out has given David Cameron a headline-grabbing opportunity. ...

Mr Cameron's criticisms of human rights law are very well made. But his proposals for dealing with it seem to owe more to the impulse to strike a political pose than to produce a workable policy.

Previous post: Beware Creeping Tyranny