The World’s Biggest Gun Show

February 28, 2013

National Resistance Army child soldier poses with his kalashnikov.  (Photo credit: Dominique Aubert/AFP/Getty Images)
National Resistance Army child soldier poses with his kalashnikov. (Photo credit: Dominique Aubert/AFP/Getty Images)

The International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX), which concluded last week in Abu Dhabi, bills itself as one of the biggest arms bazaars in the world. However, among the more than 1,100 companies exhibiting at IDEX were manufacturers whose products have made it a lot easier for bad guys to wreak havoc. There are currently no global checks in place to keep guns out of the wrong hands

From March 18-28, states will convene at the United Nations in New York to finalize a historic Arms Trade Treaty. We must make it clear that no more weapons can fall through gaping loopholes and into dangerous hands.

Amnesty International has been able to trace the flow of weapons from manufacturers exhibiting at IDEX to the very weapons used in countries where serious human rights abuses have taken place.

There were no checks in place then to stop the free flow of weapons:

  • from Pakistan to Sri Lanka, even though the country was embroiled in a brutal civil war that lasted three decades
  • or from China to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where both armed groups and government forces alike use child soldiers
  • or from the United States to Bahrain, like the tear gas used by government forces against peaceful protesters

But we can ensure that there are checks in place now if we urge the Obama administration to support a strong Arms Trade Treaty.

All the while, NRA officials keep fueling a false “gunversation” about the Arms Trade Treaty claiming that its purpose is to infringe on American gun owners rights — knowing full well that it has no impact on gun rights within U.S. borders whatsoever. In fact, the gun lobby was in D.C. yesterday to continue spreading their misinformation campaign during Congressional hearings about gun control.

So if NRA officials have their way and the Arms Trade Treaty is weakened, then we would see more children recruited as soldiers, more women raped in conflict zones, more families driven from their homes and more senseless deaths.

We must make sure the record is set straight before March 18, when Arms Trade Treaty negotiations begin. We must do all we can to close dangerous loopholes, like the one that makes international gun shows an open bazaar for the suppliers of warlords and human rights criminals.

The Arms Trade Treaty has the potential to protect families from gun violence on a global scale. Show President Obama that you care about protecting families worldwide against gun violence by taking action now.