National Rifle Association goes globalNovember 24, 1996
Web posted at: 10:50 p.m. EST
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The National Rifle Association, always an adamant defender of Americans' right to bear arms, is taking its interests international.
The NRA, which marked its 125th anniversary Sunday, has won the right to lobby the United Nations as one of an estimated 1,700 non-governmental organizations (NGO) that advise the international body on policy issues.
"In 1995, a group within the United Nations decided they were going to look at firearms ownership throughout the world, its relationship to crime and what they felt would be reasonable limits on firearms ownership," said NRA spokesman Chip Walker.
The U.N., strapped for cash, is allowing Canada and Japan to pay for the study. Both nations have criticized the prevalence of guns in the United States.
The NRA is concerned about some international efforts to curb gun ownership. In Britain, notably, lawmakers considered but rejected an attempt to ban all handguns in the wake of last year's massacre of school children by a gunman in Dunblane, Scotland.
Some critics accuse the NRA of exporting paranoia and using scare tactics to intimidate U.N. panel members and limit debate.
The NRA has launched a targeted letter-writing campaign at the U.N., said Natalie Goldring, of the British American Security Information Council.
"NRA representatives have already threatened some of my colleagues with lawsuits for trying to suggest that it is inappropriate for the NRA to be participating in these activities," Goldring said.
The first report of the U.N. panel is due out in July, and may include recommendations for curbing the global flow of illegal weapons and coordinating law enforcement efforts to track them.
Reporter Jonathan Aiken contributed to this report.
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