Will the Arms Trade Treaty Suppress Second Amendment Rights?
The first round of UN Arms Trade Treaty talks may have fallen apart at the month-long conference held in NYC this past July, but as Ted Bromund over at Heritage noted at the time, “Now that the concept of the ATT has been invented, it cannot be uninvented. There are too many countries and too many left-wing nongovernmental organizations that want a treaty.” He was right and as Katie reported last week, it didn’t take very long to initiate another attempt. One question she raised in her post deserves more attention: “Is the argument from the U.N. that it won’t suppress Second Amendment rights an honest one?” And what about the Obama administration’s argument that they “will not accept any treaty that infringes on the constitutional rights of our citizens to bear arms”?
Given our president’s feelings about our right to bear arms and his track record on gun control, the ATT has become an issue deserving very close attention. Americans shouldn’t find comfort in assuming that for UN treaties to take effect, a two-thirds majority in the Senate is necessary. In a separate article Bromund notes that this understanding of the way treaties work is far too simplistic. I’d recommend reading that article in its entirety but to summarize:
“So, in the context of the ATT, if this conference produces a treaty that is open for signature, President Obama may sign it immediately. The U.S. will then hold itself to be under a legal obligation not to defeat the ATT’s “object and purpose.” The interpretation of this phrase will rest with the State Department’s lawyers, perhaps in a way directed by subsequent legislation, whose decisions cannot be predicted and are not easily subject to legislative oversight.”
Americans also shouldn’t be quick to believe the UN’s claims that the ATT will not infringe on Americans’ Second Amendment rights. A report by the UN Coordinating Action on Small Arms titled “The Impact of Poorly Regulated Arms Transfers on the Work of the UN,” recognizes, on the one hand, that states have a right to “individual or collective self-defense” and that “the ATT does not aim to impede or interfere with the lawful ownership and use of weapons.” Yet on the other hand it states that because of the problem of diversion, or the transfer of weapons to the illicit market, “the arms trade must therefore be regulated in ways that would…minimize the risk of misuse of legally owned weapons.”
The Obama administration has also echoed claims that the ATT will not pose a threat to domestic gun owners. A Washington Times editorial sees right through it, however:
“It is hard to take the White House response seriously. The treaty instructs countries to“take the necessary legislative and administrative measures, to adapt, as necessary, national laws and regulations to implement the obligations of this treaty.” The agreement’s language is so broad, vague and poorly defined it could be stretched in a variety of ways that would pose a threat to the Second Amendment.”
In the end, of course, this treaty will do absolutely nothing to stop violence, terrorism and intra-state conflicts as its backers contend. The logistics alone are impossible and the fact that the Obama administration is agreeing to come together as equals with dictatorial regimes like Iran – a country which, by the way, received a top post at the July conference – is unconscionable.
So should we believe the administration (and the UN) when they assure Americans the ATT will not suppress our Second Amendment rights? And moreover, that they will not sign one that does? The administration’s keen interest in the treaty alone is cause for concern, but even more telling is when the adage ‘actions speak louder than words’ is applied to the Obama administration’s record. From Obamacare to Benghazi – honesty and transparency have not been their strong suits. Finally, the soaring gun sales in Obama’s first term and skyrocketing gun stocks since his reelection may tell you everything you really need to know about whether Americans take the administration at their word.