U.N. Secretary-General Believes Gun Glorification Is Bad For Children

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

(CNSNews.com) - United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the United Nations Security Council Thursday that the "progress" made at last month's U.N. conference on small arms must be followed by action against illicit manufacturing of small arms and light weapons. He also thinks glorifying guns is harmful to children.

Annan made the comments as debate opened at the U.N. over what the Security Council could do in addressing how small arms and light weapons have impacted people around the world.

He believes light weapons have heavily impacted the world's children, who face "death, injury or displacement; the loss of parents and siblings; and trauma at witnessing violence."

Annan also thinks the glorification of guns sends children the wrong message: that non-violent solutions are unworkable and unrealistic, and that power was to be found not in one's skills or intellect, but by intimidating or inflicting harm on others.

"Children are the most vulnerable victims of small arms and light weapons, and their special needs have not been given sufficient attention," Annan said.

United Nations spokesperson Farhan Haq said Annan was not referring to the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution during his speech.

"I don't see how that applies. He was not talking about a specific nation or a specific national issue. He was talking about the glorification of guns. He's not saying or making any call for censorship of any sort," said Haq.

The Gun Owners of America believe that armed governments are riskier for children than guns, according to spokesman Erich Pratt.

"In the name of saving the children they want to put further restrictions on the rights of citizens all across the globe," Pratt said. "And yet children face a greater risk at the hands of armed governments, two million deaths a year from armed governments, than they do with armed criminals.

"So armed governments oppressing their people are a greater threat than guns," he said. "Guns save lives. Here in this country alone you have two and a half million times a year that citizens use guns in a lawful way to protect their lives or the lives of their families."

The National Rifle Association had no comment on Annan's remarks, but the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence thinks gun should be kept away from children.

"We are concerned about children having access to guns and we support proposals to keep children away from guns, because we think it's not something that they should have access to," said Brendan Daly, spokesman for the Brady Campaign.

"In terms of the small arms conference," Daly added, "it was clear from the U.S. delegation's remarks that they were basically telling the line of the gun lobby."

Annan also pointed out that countries have already established "binding norms" in the areas of nuclear non-proliferation, chemical and biological weapons, and anti-personnel land mines. He thinks the same should be done on banning illegal small weapons.

"The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons is conspicuous for its lack of such a framework of binding norms and standards. Some of the world's wealthy nations are the main suppliers. But many developing countries also produce small arms, including for export," he said.

During last month's conference, in which the United States participated, the member states committed themselves to develop measures that would prevent the illicit manufacturing and trade of small arms and light weapons.

The conferees also agreed in their "program of action" to destroy illicit or surplus weapons as necessary, and to act responsibly in the areas of export, import, transit and re-transfer of weapons, since legal weapons often find their way into the hands of terrorists, criminals and drug traffickers.

"These are significant first steps in alleviating a grave threat to international peace and security. We must now consolidate these gains. A program of action is a beginning, not an end in itself. Implementation will be the true test," said Annan.

However, the agreement reached at last month's small arms conference is not legally binding for U.N. member countries.