July 16, 2009
Making the Case for Sporting Firearms at the United Nations
As president of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute, a Non-Governmental Organization member of the United Nations, Steve Sanetti today is addressing the U.N.'s Open-Ended Working Group with the goal of explaining the legitimate uses of firearms and ammunition for sporting purposes and hunting by many millions of law-abiding persons worldwide, and urging that civilian firearms should be beyond the scope of any proposed U.N. consideration of fully automatic military firearms when its deliberations turn to small arms and light weapons as part of an International Arms Trade Treaty.
Mr. Sanetti is delivering the speech to approximately 300 delegates at United Nations headquarters in Manhattan. Some segments of the speech are provided here . . .
- Mr. Chairman and Members:
- Thank you for this opportunity to address the Open-Ended Working Group on behalf of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, an NGO member of this body and which serves to establish industry standards for safety, interchangeability, reliability and quality related to the manufacturing of sporting firearms . . .
- Sport shooting activities enjoy a deep heritage and broad appeal worldwide, and are rooted in centuries-old traditions built on safety, responsibility, marksmanship, competition, fair chase, respect for wildlife and respect for the land. That responsible civilians can, as they have for centuries, safely own, use and enjoy their personally-owned firearms is dramatically illustrated by the fact that despite an estimated nearly 300 million firearms in lawful private possession in the United States alone, firearms accidents are at an all-time low, accounting for less than 1 percent of all accidental fatalities in the country, dropping by over 42 percent in the last 20 years, according to the National Safety Council.
- Millions of sportsmen and women have a strong appreciation not only for the activities they enjoy, but also for the fine craftsmanship and industrial ingenuity that are hallmarks of the sporting firearms they use and collect for sport shooting. On a personal note, as an avid sport shooter and collector I can say that owning and using firearms for sporting purposes has enriched my life and given me untold hours of pleasure and shared good company . . .
- The world is constantly changing, and there are some who call for social and political reforms that increasingly threaten sport shooting and hunting. That is why I welcome the chance to speak to you on behalf of a responsible and law-abiding industry and for so many sportsmen and women throughout the world who share this passion.
- For as long as firearms have been around, they have been used for hunting and target shooting—traditional activities that are enjoyed with family and friends. The stories of successful hunting trips and competition medals won are passed down through generations and have created the fabric of the sport shooting culture around the world . . .
- The Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute advocates the legitimate, safe and responsible use of sporting firearms, and the right of free passage of those firearms through member states . . .
- It is difficult in the limited time I have this morning/afternoon to capture the full value of hunting in the modern world, but I will try. Hunting is at the core of what makes us human, and contrary to what some may think, hunters celebrate wildlife and have done more to help conserve wildlife and habitat than any other single group in history . . .
- The economic impact of hunting supports more than wildlife conservation, however. Economic stimulus from hunting is visible globally, from small towns in rural America to small villages in African countries where a dependable, yearly food and revenue stream is vitally important. When wildlife is considered as a valuable commodity to protect and conserve, it works to prevent the illegal taking of game and the eventual devastation of species and their habitats.
- . . . In countries such as Namibia, a popular destination for hunters, the economic impact of hunting is substantial, amounting to well over 100 million Namibian dollars and totaling approximately 14 percent of the tourism sector . . .
- So in conclusion, I urge that this group consider carefully the benefits sport shooting and hunting convey to hundreds of millions of law-abiding citizens around the globe, prior to formulating any policies or directives which address our mutual goal of creating appropriate policies regarding the international transport and transfer of fully automatic military weapons. These important goals, both of them, can be addressed and obtained, so long as we all have a proper respect for the rights of law-abiding citizens of disparate cultures and lifestyles that must be allowed to co-exist if all of us are to enjoy the right to the pursuit of happiness, each in our own way.
- Thank you.