Hold the U.S. gun industry responsible for its role in international human rights violations, Global Action on Gun Violence tells U.N. body

February 2, 2023

(WASHINGTON) Global Action on Gun Violence (GAGV) filed a detailed report to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the U.S. gun industry’s negative impact on human rights in the region. The OHCHR sought inputs on “Human rights and the regulation of civilian acquisition, possession and use of firearms,” pursuant to resolution 50/12 of the UN Human Rights Council.

As input from the only civil society organization providing litigation and advocacy to the international community to stop gun violence caused by firearms trafficking, this submission – and the OHCHR report – could not be more timely or urgent.

Below is a summary of the main conclusions of GAGV’s submission, written by Jonathan Lowy. Read the full text here.


Weak U.S. laws and policies result in the severe under-regulation of civilian gun ownership and the gun industry, creating a major international human rights crisis infringing on several fundamental rights, including the right to life. In addition to facilitating gun trafficking, the gun industry fuels and sustains organized crime, transnational drug trafficking, migration, political instability, and threats to democracy, which spur even more harm to countries and human rights violations of peoples around the world. The threat of the civilian gun crisis can no longer be ignored or discounted; the bloodshed caused by the gun industry deserves serious international action to combat it.

The international gun crisis is largely a result of the U.S. gun industry’s reckless and irresponsible business conduct and the weak U.S. gun laws and policies that allow this dangerous conduct.

The U.S. gun industry can solve these issues – it can make and sell guns safely and responsibly, and it knows how to do so – but it chooses not to. Most of the world has relatively low levels of civilian gun violence, showing that gun violence can be dramatically reduced with responsible gun industry business conduct and effective national regulations. Since most civilian gun violence is committed with guns from the U.S., global gun violence can be significantly reduced if the U.S. gun industry conducted safe and diligent business practices or if the United States had more effective laws and policies to ensure as much.

The United States’ failure to protect people from gun violence despite the rising tolls on human life violates its obligations to protect human rights of their own people under international law. However, as the U.S. gun violence epidemic has evolved into a pandemic, these issues can no longer be seen solely as issues of domestic policy. The failure of the United States to join the international community by implementing effective national regulations and safety measures is inexcusable when considering that the United States provides most of the guns that are used in crime in Mexico, Jamaica, Haiti, and more, resulting in significant deaths and other irreparable harms.

The gun violence crisis that the United States has created is no longer just a domestic concern.  The United Nations and the international community must act to combat this global problem.

Global Action on Gun Violence seeks to hold the industry accountable for gun violence overseas and in the United States through innovative litigation and policy reform.