The World Forum on Shooting Activities held its yearly plenary meeting in Nuremberg, the day before the official opening of IWA
Headquartered in Brussels and Rome, the World Forum on Shooting Activities (WFSA) is an association of hunting, shooting, and industry organizations.
Founded in 1996, the WFSA has over 44 existing associations and
organizations from as far apart as Switzerland and New Zealand, Sweden
and South Africa. It represents over one hundred million sport shooters
around the world. The WFSA and its member associations for over fifteen
years have attended every major UN conference affecting hunting or
The WFSA is an official United Nations Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) recognized by the Economic and Social Council of the UN General Assembly. It is one of the few NGOs in the world to have been invited to speak before one of the five committees of the UN General Assembly.
WFSA holds a plenary meeting every year to brief selected invited visitors about its activities concerning the defense of hunting and sport shooting on a global scale.
As usual, the 2015 WFSA plenary meeting was held in Germany, and more specifically at the Nuremberg fair center, on March 3rd − the day before the opening of the IWA OutdoorClassics expo.
This year, the plenum was titled "Arguing our case internationally", and indeed centered on the WFSA's activities to counter the attacks that hunting, sport shooting, civilian gun ownership, and the industry suffered at an international level under the guise of treaties, conferences and agreements that are passed as being intended to "preserve the environment" or "prevent arms trafficking and proliferation".
The keynote speech was held by John Bolton, an American lawyer and diplomat who has served in several Republican administrations, including a high-profile role as the U.S ambassador to the United Nations from August 2005 until December 2006.
Bolton provided an interesting explaination of the U.S. point of view − that meaning both the points of view of elected politicians in Washington and of the average American citizens! − concerning those international agreements that may negatively afflict the right of common citizens to own and use firearms.
And the America perspective is critical: with the increasing threat of terrorist action in the West, the right of law-abiding citizens to own and bear guns for protection should be held in high consideration, but on the contrary, it is under constant and relentless attack.
The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT for short) is one of the key issues under this point of view.
The treaty has been so far signed by 130 Countries and ratified by sixty-six; with some important players in the global arms trade still remaining out of it (Russia and China, namely), and the given the U.S. refusal to ratify it, it is unlikely that it will have any impact on the global trade of military weaponry, either legal or illegal.
That's no wonder for those who followed closely the ATT's progress, ever since the first related talks were held in 2001: it became immediately clear how many governments and NGOs involved in the process didn't mean to focus on the global illegal trade or on the commerce of military-grade weaponry.
On the contrary they explicitly meant to use the ATT as a tool to restrict legal civilian ownership of hunting, sporting and defensive guns; back then, the Bush Administration took immediate note of this, and declared that it would have never signed, ratified nor accepted any international treaty that would violate the Constitution or the national sovereignity of the United States.
The adopted draft of the ATT is vastly different from the original drafts, but it still provides no protection to individual gun rights for common citizens; it only vaguely refers to the "legality" of the hunting, sporting, historical and collector-grade civilian guns... words pulled out of thin air, lacking clear definition and not legally binding.
John Bolton's analysis of the ATT was brief, clear, and harsh: the ATT is vague under too many points, providing at the same time too much room to the interpretation of certain clauses that may be used by some governments to enact strict gun control regulations, or may dub as a tool to force gun control into effect in those Countries that have rejected it so far on cultural and constitutional grounds − this being the case for the United States of America.
Talks for the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty will be held in the months and years to come, and concerns over how they could be used to impose harsh restrictions to the international civilian guns market are more than legitimate. Said restrictions may become so severe to become unbearable even in gun-controlled Europe... not to mention in the United States of America, which historically find any concept of limitation or "sharing" of national sovereignity, and all restrictions to individual gun rights, totally unacceptable.