In mid-July a U.N. preparatory committee held the third of its four meetings in New York City to craft the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, which is set to be revealed in 2012. Marketed by supporters as a treaty to disarm criminal cartels and terrorists, implementation of the treaty’s vague goal of “the highest possible international standards for the transfer of conventional arms” could have disastrous effects on the world’s civilian gun owners.
Alluding to the ATT’s true goals, in attendance were the heavyweights of the international civilian disarmament community. Led by the Control Arms Coalition, an alliance of anti-gun groups including the George Soros-funded International Action Network on Small Arms, the anti-gun zealots applauded the committee’s work and encouraged it to delve even deeper into the field of civilian arms control.
During the Bush presidency, American gun owners had an ally in the White House. But President Obama reversed course, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressing hope for a “strong and robust treaty that contains the highest possible, legally binding standards.”
The final version of the treaty isn’t due out until 2012, but the Chairman’s draft version that was made available in July is troubling. It predictably includes small arms and light weapons in the scope of the treaty’s control, but goes as far as to cover firearm ammunition, “parts and components” and “technology and equipment” designed to “develop, manufacture or maintain” firearms. How far will the international bureaucrats take these definitions? Scopes? Slings? Cleaning patches? Making the treaty completely unnecessary is that the U.S. already operates what even Hillary Clinton admits is the “gold standard of export controls for arms transfers.”
Not mentioned by treaty proponents is that such requirements would demand resources to assure compliance and expose the industry to new legal liabilities. This means higher prices for firearms, ammunition and whatever else the treaty might be interpreted to encompass.
More frightening are the reporting and record-keeping requirements that the treaty could force each country to maintain. This information could include firearms transferred and even information on the end user. Maybe the committee thinks it’s clever in its use of language, but American gun owners know this is just a code for registration. Worse, the treaty requires each country to submit an annual report to a U.N. “Implementation Support Unit” that could contain information on end users—meaning U.N. gun registration.
The spin doctors supporting the ATT are quick to assure worried gun owners that none of these measures will affect domestic gun laws. A quick look at their goals shows that to be impossible, and the draft paper is full of language requiring states to “adapt, as necessary, national laws and regulations” in order to meet their treaty obligations.
As the NRA has done for 15 years, we were there to meet the U.N. and international gun ban groups on their own turf. NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre addressed the committee directly, making clear to the committee that no treaty will be ratified that infringes upon the individual right of Americans to keep and bear arms. Wayne finished by giving the members of the international body what, for some, may have been their first lesson in natural rights, noting that the right to bear arms is “due to all mankind.”
Within days of the preparatory committee meeting, it was made clear to the world that most Americans stand with the NRA when 58 members of the U.S. Senate, led by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kans.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), sent letters to President Obama and Hillary Clinton declaring their opposition to any ATT encompassing civilian arms and reminding them that “the individual right guaranteed by the Second Amendment…cannot be subordinated, directly or indirectly, by any international treaty.”
This opposition, along with the requirement for two-thirds of the Senate to ratify any treaty, should ensure that Americans don’t become subject to such machinations. But since any treaty that’s signed can be pulled off the shelf for later ratification, vigilance is required to ensure that opposition to any ATT that includes civilian firearms remains strong.