UN Standards on National Small Arms Controls


The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Office of Disarmement Affairs (ODA) are finalizing many small arms control standards through what is known as the International Small Arms Control Standards (ISACS) project.

The project coordinator is Patrick McCarthy, on contract to the UNDP since 2008.  According to him, key international standards will be approved by the end of 2013.

Experts and practitioners tied to the Geneva small arms process confirm that the UN ISACS are expected to eventually serve as valuable inputs for future negotiations to amend the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

Selected Listing

Here is a listing of selected draft ISACS relating to national controls, including authors where known, and a link to a draft standard:

03.10    National controls over the manufacture of small arms and light weapons.
Lead Author: Sarah Parker, Small Arms Survey.
Draft ISACS 03.10

03.20    National controls over the international transfer of small arms and light weapons.
Lead Author:  SIPRI  (with their Arms Transfers group).
Draft ISACS 03.20

03.21    National controls over the end-user and end-use of internationally transferred small arms and light weapons.
Lead Author: GRIP of Belgium.
Draft ISACS 03.21

03.30   National controls over the access of civilians to small arms and light weapons.
Lead Author:   Dr. Ed Laurance of MIIS.
Draft ISACS 03.30

03.40    National coordinating mechanisms on small arms and light weapons control.
Lead Author: Institute of Security Studies in South Africa.
Draft ISACS 03.40

Quick Profile: ISACS 03.30

For American industry and arms right civil society groups, perhaps the most controversial national controls standard now in final review is 03.30, is authored by Dr. Ed Laurance.  He is a former strategic planner for IANSA.  IANSA stands for the International Action Network on Small Arms, which, according to page 3 of its foundation document, is committed to “reducing the availability of weapons to civilians in all societies.”

The draft standard is nearly 30 pages and its core provisions are broken down in sections 6, 7, and 8.  These sections are titled Regulating types and characteristics of small arms and light weapons, Regulating civilian uses of small arms, and Regulating civilian users of small arms respectively.  Besides prohibiting civilian ownership of certain small arms already legal for possession by appropriately licensed individuals in the United States, ISACS 03.30 has provisions for:

  1. Prohibitions on civilians owning weapons manufactured and configured according to specifications set by a military armed service of a State
  2. National registration of all firearms
  3. National individual possession and purchasing licenses for single firearms based on specific, demonstrated, and legitimate need
  4. Licenses that specify where a given firearm is stored
  5. License restrictions by category, for example:
  • Category 1: Rimfire rifles (not semi-automatic); shotguns (not pump-action or semi-automatic)
  • Category 2: Centrefire rifles (not semi-automatic)
  • Category 3: Rimfire rifles (semi-automatic); shotguns (pump-action or semi-automatic capable of holding up to 5 rounds of ammunition)
  • Category 4: Centrefire rifles (semi-automatic); shotguns (pump-action or semi-automatic capable of holding more than 5 rounds of ammunition)
  • Category 5: Handguns (semi-automatic, e.g. revolvers and pistols)
  1. Limits on the number of firearms one may posses
  2. Mandatory 7 day waiting periods
  3. Mandatory use of gun safes or locks
  4. Periodic home inspections for compliance with safe storage requirements
  5. Minimum age for licensed possession and use set to 18 years old.

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