- The Washington Times - Friday, July 6, 2001

NEW YORK An outcry by American gun enthusiasts, who fear the United Nations will trample their Second Amendment rights at an upcoming gun conference, has prompted the world body to issue a statement saying it isn't so.
At least 100 letters and e-mails have been received at the U.N. headquarters in recent months, expressing "irate and strongly worded" fears over next week's international conference on small arms.
"The United Nations Charter (Article II, paragraph 7) specifically forbids the U.N. from intervening in matters that are within a member state's domestic jurisdiction," says the fact sheet.
The U.N. fact sheet also stresses that pro-hunting and firearms-safety groups such as the National Rifle Association will be participating in next week's conference, dubbed the U.N. Conference on Small Arms and Light Weapons.
None of the missives received thus far appear threatening to the United Nations or any of its officers, said U.N. Undersecretary General of Disarmament Affairs Jayantha Dhanapala.
Nevertheless, since guns are involved, Mr. Dhanapala said he was taking no chances and had turned over the correspondence to U.N. security for a threat assessment.
"We have had in the weeks leading up to the conference a flow of letters and e-mails from essentially gun rights activists," Mr. Dhanapala told reporters yesterday.
He said that gun owners of other nations were apparently not concerned. "This is an American phenomenon."
Mr. Dhanapala, a disarmament expert from Sri Lanka, carefully refuted the allegations, saying, "we are not looking at the question of domestic gun control as far as crime prevention concerned. … The legal ownership of guns is not being interfered with."
Representatives from 120 nations and 177 non-governmental organizations will gather in New York starting Monday for the two-week conference to battle the illicit trade in small arms.
The American delegation will include John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, who is slated to deliver the U.S. speech from the General Assembly podium.
American gun owners have long regarded the U.N. conference on small arms with suspicion, concerned that foreign diplomats might try to write treaties that would infringe on the U.S. constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
An Internet search of "United Nations" and "Second Amendment" turned up scores of Web sites, most of them framing the discussion as a potential assault on American sovereignty, or an attack on the right to defend self and family.
The letter and e-mail writers were apparently not part of an organized campaign, said U.N. officials, who noted that the missives appeared to be written individually.
Most of them came though a U.N. Web site that features the upcoming conference, www.un.org/events .

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