Amnesty International, Oxfam International and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) are pushing for a treaty to "protect civilians from armed violence."
Those three groups -- which have formed a coalition called the Control Arms Campaign -- say their goal is to reduce arms proliferation and misuse -- "and to convince governments to introduce global principles to regulate the transfers of weapons." They are urging the United Nations to impose a "binding arms trade treaty."
According to Amnesty International, nearly 2 billion people live in deep poverty, a problem made worse by the "uncontrolled proliferation of guns and other weapons that also fuels human rights abuses and escalates conflicts." Amnesty International claims that weapons kill more 1,000 men, women, and children every day.
"It doesn't have to be like this," Amnesty International says on its website. The Control Arms Campaign believes a global Arms Trade Treaty is the solution.
But in the United States, defenders of the Second Amendment are insulted by what they see as a carefully timed assault on the U.S. Constitution.
They note that the U.N. Conference on Global Gun Control will run from July 26-July 7 -- a time span that includes the Fourth of July, Independence Day.
The U.N. conference poses a direct threat to America's constitutionally protected individual right to keep and bear arms, said Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF).
Gottlieb, who plans to attend the U.N. conference, is urging the U.S. government to reconsider its financial support for the United Nations, given its effort to undermine the Second Amendment.
"Had it not been for our tradition of private firearms ownership, our citizens might still be subjects of the queen," Gottlieb said in a press release.
"Had it not been for America, all of Europe might be speaking German. Were America not the 'great arsenal of democracy' that President Franklin D. Roosevelt described in 1940, the world would be a far different place, and the sanctimonious bureaucrats at the U.N. might instead be working in labor camps."
Gottlieb finds it troubling that as the United States celebrates its 230th birthday, global anti-gunners "want to create a binding international agreement that could supersede our laws and Constitution.
"We have done much for the U.N., and in return, the organization has hosted despots, tyrants and dictators whose record of human rights abuses, aggression and genocide speaks for itself. And now comes an attack on our Constitution, on our national holiday.
"America has always answered the call to help our international friends and neighbors," Gottlieb observed, "but when our very way of life is attacked, maybe it is time to find more worthy endeavors for our material and financial support."
At the United Nations' first small arms conference in 2001, the United States rejected the idea of global gun control.
John Bolton - the current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations - in 2001 was serving as U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control. He told the U.N. conference in 2001, "The United States believes that the responsible use of firearms is a legitimate aspect of national life."
According to the United Nations, the upcoming small arms conference is intended to assess progress made since 2001 and actions needed to further stem illegal small arms trade. "Crush the illicit trade in small arms," the U.N. website says.
In a "Frequently Asked Questions" section, the U.N. says although the 2001 small arms conference did not define "small arms," the United Nations General Assembly issued a document in 2005 defining "small arms and light weapons" as "any man-portable lethal weapon that expels or launches...a shot, bullet or projectile by the action of an explosive.
Broadly speaking, the website says, "small arms" are weapons designed for individual use. They include revolvers and self-loading pistols, rifles and carbines, sub-machine guns, assault rifles and light machine guns.
"Light weapons," according to the website, include heavy machine guns, hand-held under-barrel and mounted grenade launchers, portable anti-aircraft guns, portable anti-tank guns, recoilless rifles, portable launchers of anti-tank missile and rocket systems, portable launchers of anti-aircraft missile systems, and mortars of a caliber of less than 100 millimeters.