Going Global


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Sylvan-Forge
May 9, 2007, 09:26 AM
I understand that the NRA works internationally, but I wonder if another alphabet-soup-group or two would help things a bit?

One specifically named for its purpose..
How does The 'Global Arms Alliance' sound?

A group to bring the fight to the UN. To fight against disarmament worldwide.


Here's a related essay:
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/17/magazine/17wwln_essay.html?ex=1316145600&en=5d94bd4392045e7b&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

Global Gun Rights?
By JOSHUA KURLANTZICK
Published: September 17, 2006

In July, as rifle-wielding militias in Iraq slaughtered civilians, the United Nations held a conference on small arms. The conference aimed at creating an international treaty limiting the trade in small arms — weapons designed for personal use, which cause about a thousand deaths worldwide each day. But after intensive debate, and despite the support of many nations, even the normally sunny Kofi Annan had to admit that the conference had collapsed or, as he put it, had “ended without agreeing on an outcome.”

One group represented at the conference had reason to celebrate: the National Rifle Association, which in the past decade has been refining its own version of globalization. At first, the group openly fought gun control abroad, but that enabled gun-control advocates to accuse local gun lobbies of selling out to America. In Brazil, the N.R.A. tried a new approach. Brazil has the most gun deaths annually of any country, and last October it held a referendum on a nationwide gun ban. In the run-up to the vote, polls suggested that more than 70 percent of Brazilians supported the ban. Then the Brazilian gun lobby, which previously had emphasized the desirability of gun ownership, began running advertisements that instead suggested that if the government could take away the right to own a weapon (though Brazilians have no constitutional right to bear arms), it could steal other civil liberties. This argument took gun-control advocates by surprise, and on voting day, 64 percent of Brazilians voted against the gun ban. “We gun-control groups failed to anticipate this idea of focusing on rights,” admits Denis Mizne of Sou da Paz, a Brazilian public-policy institute. As a report in Foreign Policy revealed, the National Rifle Association lobbyist Charles Cunningham had traveled to Brazil as early as 2003 to impart strategy to local gun advocates, teaching them to emphasize rights instead of weapons.

Around the world, the N.R.A. is finding that a rights-based approach translates into many languages. As the N.R.A.’s executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, says: “They made the rights argument [in Brazil.] They made the argument that this was being taken away from the people.” He pauses. “It caught Iansa” — the International Action Network on Small Arms — “by surprise. They already had the Champagne on ice.” In the mid-1990’s, the N.R.A. became a nongovernmental observer at the United Nations and helped form a global coalition of pro-gun groups to match disarmament coalitions. At U.N. conferences, this coalition then uses success in national referendums to argue against global treaties. “The vote in Brazil on last Oct. 23 was a mandate,” the head of one gun-advocacy group argued at the U.N. conference this July. “The international anti-gun community, especially powerful NGO’s, was intimately and extensively involved in supporting the gun-ban referendum. They lost. They did not receive the mandate.”

The N.R.A. is in the conservative vanguard: in recent years many conservative groups have been increasingly willing to engage abroad. Going global has several advantages. Organizations get more leverage over U.S. policy: conservative groups’ growing knowledge of H.I.V. issues in Africa has given them more say over America’s global AIDS policies, leverage that conservatives have used to press abstinence as a leading strategy. Going global also can provide a defense against the influence of international law, which judges like Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer have increasingly introduced into American courts. Conservative legal organizations like the Alliance Defense Fund have headed to countries like Sweden to combat international precedent on issues ranging from human cloning to home schooling. And conservatives now realize that by co-opting the language of rights, traditionally employed by the political left, they can export their own ideas of universal rights, whether that means the White House’s democratization program or a universal right to bear arms.

Joshua Kurlantzick is special correspondent for The New Republic and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

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