Monday, December 17, 2012

Signatures as Powerful as Bullets

Want to do vent your frustration about our nation's gun culture constructively? You can start today by telling our leaders that you support the UN Arms Trade Treaty.  Here are ten reasons why we need a strong global regulations to prevent weapons from falling into the wrong hands:

  1. 1,500 people are killed every day by conflict and armed violence. Deaths resulting from war, armed homicides, extra-judicial executions and excessive use of force by state security forces amount to over 500,000 per year or 1,500 per day.
  2. There’s more international laws regulating the trade of bananas than weapons. Legal loopholes in the laws governing the trade of weapons enable states and corporations to sell guns, bullets and teargas to dictators and tyrants, who've then used them to kill and injure civilians. Weapons are often traded irresponsibly between countries, with little consideration of whether they’ll be used to commit human rights abuses.
  3. 12 billion bullets are produced every year. There’s an estimated 875 million guns in the world right now, and about 8 million ‘light weapons’ (such as heavy machine guns) are produced each year.
  4. Over 26 million people have been forced to flee their homes. Millions of people have been forced to flee their homes in fear of their lives due to armed conflict. This often pushes people further into poverty by restricting access to clean water and shelter, while increasing the likelihood of deadly diseases.
  5. Child soldiers are being used in armed conflict in 19 countries. Tens of thousands of children are being used right now by governments in their armed forces and by non-state armed groups. These children are often armed using weapons irresponsibly traded by governments and private corporations.
  6. Click to enlarge
      For every death, there’s up to 28 serious injuries.
      It’s difficult to estimate exactly how many people are injured in armed conflict, past statistics indicate that as many as 28 people are injured for every person killed by weapons on battlefields.
    1. Damage caused by weapons destroys infrastructure and perpetuates poverty. As well as killing and harming people, weapons such as missiles destroy vital infrastructure that people rely on in their daily lives -- such as access to food, water and shelter. This can push survivors into poverty.
    2. 74 per cent of the world’s weapons are supplied by just six countries. In 2010, almost 3/4 of the world’s weapons have been supplied by six of the world’s most powerful countries: USA (34.84%), Russia (14.86%), Germany (7.43%), United Kingdom(6.57%), China (6.29%), and France (4%). All but Germany are the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. By allowing the trading of weapons which are then used to commit or facilitate human rights abuses, these governments are permitting their use for repression, conflict, violence, and other human rights violations.
    3. Systematic rape of women and girls can occur through the use of weapons. In conflict regions such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivore, and Sierra Leone, the scale of rape and sexual violence is staggeringly high. Many women and girls have been forced into sexual slavery by fighters, and many are raped at gunpoint. Women and girls are often the forgotten victims of armed conflict.
    4. A strong Arms Trade Treaty could save hundreds of thousands of lives every year. During July 2012, world leaders came together at the United Nations in New York to decide on adopting legally binding international standards regulating the trade of arms between countries. While the final treaty was not agreed on, it brought us closer then even before to getting a strong Arms Trade Treaty with human rights protections at its core.
    Google "arms trade treaty" and you will find yourself buried in an avalanche of conspiratorial links opposing the treaty generated by the National Rifle Association and it's allies. Why the fuss about this treaty which has no impact on domestic gun laws? From IHT:

    Some American commentators and gun-control advocates have asserted that gun lobbyists get much of their funding from gun manufacturers who could stand to lose from an international arms control deal. 
    The U.N. treaty might not dent U.S. manufacturers’ domestic market, but it would potentially impact exports that by one estimate were worth $336.5 million last year, making the United States the world leader. 
    “Is the N.R.A. working for casual gun-owners, many of whom, according to polling, support tougher restrictions on gun ownership?” Lee Fang asked in The Nation this week. “Or is the NRA serving the gunmaker lobby, which is purely interested in policies that will promote greater gun sales and more profits? 
    Despite efforts to debunk the misinformation put out by the NRA, even on Fox, it's going to take an enormous effort to amass a human rights movement counterweight in favor of a strong treaty that regulates the trade of all conventional weapons, including small arms, machine guns, bullets and tear gas and prevents the sale and transfer of weapons that could be used to commit serious human rights abuses. Please help us build a safer world today!
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