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July 17 UN Rally Targets International Gun Running.

NEW YORK, July 9 /PRNewswire/ --

Targeting guns as an international humanitarian problem, US organizations are hosting a rally on July 17th, during the UN's first-ever conference on guns -- formally known as the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.

Activists from around the world will join against the twin global phenomena of gun running and gun violence.

An estimated half-million people worldwide die annually from handguns, assault weapons and other "weapons of mass destruction in slow motion" as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has labeled them.

Nearly 30,000 Americans die from guns annually.

US organizers are calling on President Bush and Congress to curb the illegal sales of guns, and gun-running, right here at home -- by requiring background checks for weapons sales at gun shows.

Lora Lumpe, an arms control expert with the Norwegian Initiative on Small Arms Transfers, said: "The US and other key arms supplier governments have worked to ensure that nothing meaningful comes out of this conference. The US has essentially decreed that not one thing in the UN draft program of action for combating arms trafficking would affect the ability of murderers, criminals and drug lords to get guns in the US. Nothing in the UN draft will keep the US and other suppliers from shipping arms to abusive governments or into combat zones."

The "Guns Know No Borders" rally at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the UN will have an air of an international festival -- but an edge of angry complaint about the likely failure of diplomats to accomplish enough during this global summit to actually diminish the arms trafficking that sustains global violence.

Speakers include: Bill Schulz, Executive Director, Amnesty International USA; Conmany Wesseh, a Liberian refugee working against armed violence in West Africa; Holly Burkhalter of Physicians for Human Rights and head of the US Campaign to Ban Landmines; Jesse Sneed, Baltimore mother who lost her son to guns; Mary Leigh Blek, of Million Mom March; and Antonio Bandeira Rangel, of Viva Rio, working against gun violence in the slums of Rio, Brazil.

Silent March will display victims' shoes, representing people killed worldwide. Ellen Freudenheim, director of Silent March and an organizer of the rally, commented, "Lax gun laws in the US put at risk not just Americans, but thousands of people around the world, as weapons leak out of this country."

One of the organizers of the event, Andy Pelosi of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, said, "In support of this UN conference, US policymakers should close the gun show loophole and increase penalties for falsifying gun transaction records and for weapons-trafficking within and from the US."

The rally is sponsored by Amnesty International USA, American Friends Service Committee (Quakers), Silent March, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and the International Action Network on Small Arms, among others.

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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 9, 2001
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