The CBC reported yesterday afternoon that Canada has “modified its controversial position on a United Nations arms control treaty.”
In a new position paper submitted to the UN, the federal government has dropped its proposal to exclude all sporting and hunting firearms from the international Arms Trade Treaty, an agreement that seeks to regulate the import, export and transfer of all conventional weapons.
Last summer Canada surprised many and attracted heaps of scorn from countries such as Nigeria, Brazil, Mexico and Australia, when it changed its stance on the treaty and advocated for the exclusion of so-called “civilian” firearms.
The Mexicans were particularly critical of Canada’s stance according to the CBC. The Mexicans allege that the narco-terrorists are taking “hunting and sporting” firearms and converting them into “assault weapons.” As one commenter on the story said, he had never seen full auto bolt or lever action rifles but he supposed a genius gunsmith might be able to pull it off. I don’t think even a genius of the order of John Moses Browning could do that.
While I cannot find the position paper in question on Canadian government websites, here is the position that they do put forward on the Arms Trade Treaty from the UN Mission’s website. They note elsewhere that they support “in principle” the negotiation of the Arms Trade Treaty.
The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons has had a devastating impact on people throughout the world. There are currently in excess of 600 million small arms and light weapons in circulation. Small arms and light weapons alone are instrumental in the deaths of more than 350,000 people a year. The proliferation and misuse of small arms pose a serious threat to human security.
Combating the illicit trade in small arms effectively requires a comprehensive approach which focuses primarily on the humanitarian impact of the proliferation and misuse of small arms in terms of conflict prevention and the protection of civilians, while recognizing the existing and legitimate interests of firearms owners, producers, brokers, and retailers.
Canada supports full implementation of the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects and remains active at the international, regional and sub-regional levels to tackle the problems stemming from the proliferation, excessive accumulation and misuse of small arms.
A group called Project Ploughshares is applauding the Canadian Government’s change saying they are pleased that it “toned down its call for exemptions on certain classes of firearms.”
One of the two Canadian gun rights organizations, the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, is said to be pleased with the language submitted by the Department of Foreign Affairs regarding the Arms Trade Treaty.
Tony Bernardo, executive director of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association, is also pleased with the changes.
“We would support this version of the Arms Trade Treaty document from Canada as it empowers independent nations to set their own discretionary policies regarding civilian-owned firearms within their borders.”
Bernardo said his take on the preamble is that Canada does not want “civilian” firearms included within the scope of the treaty.
In its position paper, Canada says it supports the inclusion of small arms, light weapons and ammunition within the ATT, “in keeping with the principle of national discretion.”
The CSSA, however, doesn’t have anything posted on their website. The other Canadian gun rights organization, the National Firearms Association, has not posted anything about this on their website nor was quoted by the CBC for their story.
As to why many governments around the world are pushing for the Arms Trade Treaty, I don’t think you need to look further than Chavez’s Venezuela where civilian ownership of firearms was just effectively banned.