Some world leaders at the G8 summit meeting are floating the idea of a global tax on arms sales, including – at French President Jacques Chirac’s suggestion – a tax on gun purchases by individuals.
In a speech at the annual meeting of the “Group of Eight,” or G8, Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva pushed the arms-sales tax as a scheme whereby the world’s wealthiest nations could fund efforts to eliminate world hunger, reports Bloomberg News.
The “Group of Eight” includes the U.S., UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan and Russia.
Citing the Brazilian paper Folha de S. Paulo, Bloomberg reports Lula said such taxes would create “a global fund capable of giving food to those who are hungry and for creating the conditions to end the causes of hunger.”
Calling the Brazilian leader’s proposal “forceful and convincing,” Chirac was reluctant to back a levy on weapons manufacturers in France and elsewhere, but suggested a global tax on firearms purchases made by individuals, said the report.
“Lula’s idea is a simple one. People must be able to eat three times a day, and that is not the case today,” Chirac added, according to Agence France-Presse. “This unacceptable situation must be debated.”
Lula’s speech containing the controversial proposal came after a meeting of leaders of 12 developing countries with the G-8. The Brazilian leader also suggested wealthy creditor nations could donate part of the debt payments they receive back into a global fund to relieve hunger.
Chirac later said the proposed tax on arms sales might serve as an alternative to the “Tobin tax,” which has been floated previously as a possible global tax on currency transactions, according to a CNSNews.com report.
“Perhaps a tax on the sale of weapons would be quite justified,” Chirac said, according to CNSNews.com. “I’m very much in favor of studying this proposal. For the time being, that’s all he’s asked. There’s lots of trade in weapons, and there’s no doubt whatsoever that this trade attracts everyone’s concern.”
The very thought of a global tax on arms sales and possibly even on individual gun purchases is like walking on glass to many, who feel doubly threatened by a global tax and by another encroachment on private gun-ownership. Although many in public policy positions might downplay such concerns as overblown or even paranoid, global bodies do have a long, if rarely reported, history of trying to foster various sorts of international gun bans.
As far back as Sept. 24, 1999, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan called on members of the Security Council to “tackle one of the key challenges in preventing conflict in the next century” – the proliferation and “easy availability” of small arms and light weapons, which Annan identified as the “primary tools of violence” in conflicts throughout the world. (Though the terms tend to be used interchangeably, the United Nations defines small arms as weapons designed for personal use, while light weapons are those designed for several persons operating as a crew. Together, they account for virtually every kind of firearm from revolvers, pistols, rifles, carbines and light machine guns all the way to heavy machine guns, grenade launchers, portable anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns, mortars up to 100 mm caliber, and land mines.)
“Even in societies not beset by civil war, the easy availability of small arms has in many cases contributed to violence and political instability,” said Annan at that time. “Controlling that easy availability is a prerequisite for a successful peace-building process.”
Talk is one thing, but the Security Council then unanimously adopted the “Report of the Group of Governmental Experts on Small Arms.” The 26-member group’s various recommendations, two dozen in all, add up to a comprehensive program for worldwide gun control, and call for a total ban on private ownership of “assault rifles.” A few of the recommendations:
- All small arms and light weapons which are not under legal civilian possession and which are not required for the purposes of national defense and internal security, should be collected and destroyed by States as expeditiously as possible.
- All States should determine in their national laws and regulations which arms are permitted for civilian possession and the conditions under which they can be used.
- All States should ensure that they have in place adequate laws, regulations and administrative procedures to exercise effective control over the legal possession of small arms and light weapons and over their transfer in order … to prevent illicit trafficking.
- States are encouraged to integrate measures to control ammunition … into prevention and reduction measures relating to small arms and light weapons.
- States should work toward … appropriate national legislation, regulations and licensing requirements that define conditions under which firearms can be acquired, used and traded by private persons. In particular, they should consider the prohibition of unrestricted trade and private ownership of small arms and light weapons specifically designed for military purposes, such as automatic guns (e.g., assault rifles and machine-guns).
The report notes with approval countries like China that have enacted measures to “strengthen legal or regulatory controls.” China reported that some 300,000 “illicit” guns were seized and destroyed by officials acting in response to “new and more stringent national regulations that have come into force … on the control on guns within the country and on arms exports.”
France, too, in 1998 “acted to reinforce governmental control over military and civilian arms and ammunition, and introduced more rigorous measures regulating the holding of arms by civilians.”
A State Department official, requesting anonymity, has previously told WND “the United Nations will not dictate domestic gun control for any nation. They can make recommendations and nations can act on those recommendations as they see fit, but we will never have the United Nations telling countries what they should do.”
Questioned about specific recommendations, he replied, “Those are just recommendations – and surprisingly, a number of countries, including the U.S., take them up on those recommendations. In fact, we support all 24 of those recommendations.”
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