Times Observer outdoor writer Steve Sorensen in his July 14 column ("Do gun owners have reason to be suspicious?") goes to great lengths to incite fear that a proposed United Nations treaty is a threat to the Constitutionally protected right to bear arms in the United States.
Whether through a lack of research, the constant paranoia some gun-owners are defined by, or an effort to insinuate his own political leanings into a purported "hunting" column (or some combination of the three), Mr. Sorensen wastes a great deal of valuable newspaper space on more "conspiracy theory" nonsense both the extreme right and left have utilized in recent years to polarize our country and advance their own agendas.
The Internet myth-buster site "Snopes.com" traced the anti-Obama effort to April 2010 emails that began: "On Wednesday, the Obama Administration took its first major step in a plan to ban all firearms in the United States." The emails went on to describe how the president through the United Nations treaty would "use the U.S. State Department to bypass the normal legislative process" and would "lead to the complete ban and confiscation of all firearms."
That should be absurd enough on its face for most people to instantly dismiss it. But in case it's not, here are a few facts about the "Arms Trade Treaty" being discussed by the United Nations:
It is a legitimate mission for an international body to discuss treaties that, as Snopes describes it, "close gaps in existing regional and national arms export control systems that allow weapons to pass into the illicit market."
Snopes also notes, "Even if such a treaty came to pass, U.S. rights and laws regarding the sale and ownership of small arms would still apply within the United States."
Further, even if it would impact gun ownership in the U.S. (which it doesn't), ratification of the treaty requires the approval of two-thirds of the U.S. Senate. According to the on-line source Wikipedia, as of September 2011, 58 U.S. Senators "have expressed opposition to an Arms Trade Treaty that would limit Second Amendment rights of U.S. citizens," far more than the number needed to block such a treaty.
The UN General Assembly resolution that started the process of looking at such a treat explicitly stated that it is "the exclusive right of States (member countries) to regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership, including through constitutional protections on private ownership."
Snopes called the issues raised in the emails "scarelore" and false. The Los Angeles Times in October 2011 wrote that "only a narrow fringe purports that Americans could see their gun rights taken away by the UN, which has no authority over constitutional rights."
The LA Times in April 2012 further noted that "Obama hasn't proposed any anti-gun legislation in his first term, and has rarely mentioned the topic." The Times went on to note that, "If the NRA (National Rifle Association) persists in crying wolf it's because gun owners might become complacent if they realize the battle against gun control has been largely won which might prompt them to stop sending money to the NRA."
In the run-up to the presidential election in particular, I find the polarizing, nonsensical, fear-mongering advanced in Mr. Sorensen's column to be irresponsible and damaging. Even if Mr. Sorensen doesn't know better, the Times Observer should.
Thank you for the opportunity to respond.