International undercutting

By BOB BARR, A UPI Outside View commentary   |   Sept. 4, 2003 at 7:12 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Regardless of how one comes down on the question of homosexual behavior -- the issue at the core of the Supreme Court's recent Lawrence v. Texas decision -- all Americans who believe in our Constitution, and especially those who support the Second Amendment, ought to be concerned.

What, you might ask, does the right to keep and bear arms have to do with a court decision concerning homosexual behavior? Good question.

The simple answer is, the decision, particularly language in Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion, could be used to support the use of European or other foreign court decisions, laws, and even general policies, as precedent for changing in U.S. law, including those that relate to firearms.

In other words, the Lawrence decision could wind up undermining activities and rights protected in this country by the Second Amendment. Got your attention?

After having attended the recent conference at the United Nations in New York on controlling small arms and light weapons, and witnessing first-hand the momentum behind the move by the U.N. leadership and many member nations to institute a legally binding system of gun registration and regulation administered by that international body, I am more concerned than ever with the language in the Lawrence opinion.

I get "bad vibes" to begin with when I sit for a week and listen to one U.N. member nation after another harangue against "civilian possession of firearms" as part of a concerted, multi-year effort by the U.N. General Assembly to develop a legally binding protocol to register and control firearms internationally.

Those vibes turn to serious concern when I then read the majority opinion by the Supreme Court of the United States praising such vague notions as "human freedom in other countries" and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Supreme Court majority's citations to international policies, bodies and practices in support of its decision in Lawrence v. Texas is noteworthy because it appears to represent the very first time the United States Supreme Court has cited an international decision not involving the United States in a justice's recorded opinion (other than in a footnote).

This precedent should be viewed with alarm by all Americans who value and understand principles of sovereignty.

It should also worry those who understand that America's court decisions, especially those penned by the highest court in the land, have always been, and should continue to be based on the American Constitution, American laws, and American legal precedents, not their foreign counterparts.

Not content with referencing such amorphous notions as European ideas of "human rights" in a case involving American laws, at least two Supreme Court Justices have spoken publicly in recent weeks about the United States not being an "island," and about why it is important for our nation to pay more attention to, and be involved in the global family. Sounds a lot like pushing some New World Order to me.

Such nonsense would be bad enough if hawked by someone like Bill Clinton. What makes these latest statements even more serious, however, is that they are being mouthed by sitting justices on the Supreme Court.

The problem highlighted by the Lawrence v. Texas decision is particularly worrisome for those of us involved with supportive of the National Rifle Association, when considered against the backdrop of rhetoric in support of international gun control. This growing movement is backed by the leadership at the United Nations, much of the national and international media, and by a large number of vocal and well-funded foreign NGOs (non-governmental organizations).

These foreign NGOs, unlike those in the U.S. such as the NRA, are often generously financed by anti-firearms governments like Great Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Japan, Brazil, the European Union and others. And their message mimics that of their benefactor governments - civilian ownership of firearms is bad and only governments should be able to possess them.

Through their well-funded and heavily publicized efforts to demonize private gun ownership and the freedom in America to possess firearms -- which these groups and their governments resent deeply -- the anti-gun agenda on the international stage is already being hyped as "policy." But this is "policy" simply because they keep saying so; "policy" simply because these nations and organizations draft and repeatedly adopt anti-gun position papers and statements; and "policy" simply because these groups and their governments refer to their self-generated and self-serving statements as a "consensus."

While all this nonsense should count for nothing more than what it is - bloviating by groups and governments resentful of the freedom Americans enjoy under our Constitution, and an effort to bring us down to their level with no such freedom - it is gaining currency among the intelligentsia. You know, all those highly educated and self-absorbed writers, thinkers and bureaucrats who constantly strive to convince each other how important they are.

However, this is a very serious matter, and if we're not careful, these so-called "policies" and "international consensus" statements will soon turn up in a Supreme Court decision in our own country diminishing or gutting the Second Amendment.

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-- Bob Barr, a member of the National Rifle Association's Board of Directors, is also a distinguished fellow of Freedom Alliance. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to January 2003. In 2001 and again in July 2003, he served as an official member of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Conference on Small Arms and Light Weapons.

-- United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues.

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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