Conservative Congressman Criticizes UN Gun Control Proposal

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:09 PM EDT

( - Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), a member of the United States delegation to the United Nations Small Arms Conference expressed opposition Monday to a so-called "Program of Action" that was distributed to conferees.

"Despite strong opposition from a number of concerned parties, including the U.S. government, the U.N. appears to be moving forward with a Program of Action that is both seriously defective and unacceptable in a number of areas," Barr said at a news conference at the United Nations headquarters.

"This document," Barr said, "still moves signatories in the direction of limiting legal possession and transfer of lawful small arms. It would also lay the groundwork for greatly expanded record keeping by the federal government, far beyond that allowed or required under current U.S. domestic law."

He added, "It would limit the entities to which a (United Nations) member state could send arms in support of legitimate national policy, such as the support of freedom fighters opposing a genocidal regime."

Barr, known as one of the most "pro-gun" members of the House is a member of the House Judiciary Committee.

Conferees began working on the "program for action" on Monday. They hope to iron out details on how all 189 U.N. member states can agree on how to curb the illegal trade in small arms. The conference is expected to end on Friday. Insiders say there are going to be long nights of negotiating.

Shortly after the conference opened last week, the United States fired the first volley. Undersecretary of State John Bolton said there shouldn't be any move to restrict gun ownership.

"The United States believes that the responsible use of firearms is a legitimate aspect of national life. Like many countries, the United States has a cultural tradition of hunting and sport shooting. We, therefore, do not begin with the presumption that all small arms and light weapons are the same or that they are all problematic," said Bolton.

He added, "As U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has said, 'just as the First and Fourth Amendments secure individual rights of speech and security respectively, the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms."

However, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was not happy with Bolton's speech.

"Do not be distracted by statements made by others that the U.N. wants to get weapons away from people who legally own them. One has a right to own a weapon, maybe, but we also have a right to protect innocent people in our community," Annan told reporters during a stop in Berlin.

The U.N. estimates some 500 million small arms are in circulation in the world, used in 46 current conflicts, and causing over 1,000 deaths a day.