The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI), as a recognized non-government organization (NGO) of the United Nations, testified at the Arms Trade Treaty negotiations this week, saying “that hundreds of millions of citizens regularly use firearms for the greater good” and that a “treaty that does not support the positive use of firearms is doomed to cause more harm than good.”
Richard Patterson, managing director, addressed the delegates at United Nations headquarters in New York City. SAAMI was established in 1926 at the request of the U.S. government to create safety and reliability standards in the design, manufacture, transportation, storage and use of firearms, ammunition and components.
With its myopic focus on criminal and terrorist misuse of firearms, the treaty lacks a comprehensive view of firearms trade and use. Patterson pointed out the benefits and popularity of target shooting and hunting, and the universality of firearm use for protection. “Regulated hunting keeps wildlife populations in balance with healthy ecosystems and is a major contributor to economic stability–and thereby promotes peace–in rural areas and developing countries,” he said. “Target shooting has its roots in the very beginnings of civilization. This is an Olympic year, and shooting events attract the third largest number of participating nations of any sport at the Olympic Games. And people in every nation in this room–including the U.N. itself–use firearms to protect the law abiding and enforce peace.”
SAAMI suggested that a step in the right direction would be to have the treaty focus on “fully automatic military firearms only.”
SAAMI objected to the inclusion of small arms ammunition in the treaty, and pointed out the impossibility of any such scheme.
“Just as you cannot be all things to all people, this treaty can’t either,” Patterson said. “Focus on the real problems that can be managed–focus on military weapons, and avoid being distracted by topics like ammunition, which are laudable in their idealism, but completely lacking in their practicality. Be focused, be specific, and draft a treaty with precise definitions that minimize the loopholes of ‘creative interpretation.'”
The UN will conclude negotiations on July 27, at which time the text of a treaty will either be approved by concensus, or the treaty will die.