At the United Nations in New York City this week, the world’s nations began finalizing language for a legally binding global treaty that some believe will strip U.S. gun owners of their 2nd Amendment rights. Meeting through July 27, 193 members of the U.N., along with non-governmental organizations, the NRA, public-interest groups, and firearms and other arms-industry representatives, are convening at the Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).
Purported to prevent the transfer of weapons to armed groups and terrorists, ATT has been in the works since 2006. Supporters of the treaty say it will close loopholes that allow arms dealers to evade the strict laws that already exist in countries like the U.S. and transfer guns through weaker states.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon opened the conference by saying, “Our common goal is clear: a robust and legally binding Arms Trade Treaty that will have a real impact on the lives of those millions of people suffering from the consequences of armed conflict, repression and armed violence. It is ambitious, but it is achievable.” After the conference opened, representatives from the U.K., France, Germany and Sweden issued a statement that the treaty “should cover all types of conventional weapons, notably including small arms and light weapons, all types of munitions, and related technologies.” Language like that troubles Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who said, “Ultimately, the U.N. Small Arms Treaty is designed to register, ban and confiscate firearms owned by private citizens,” Paul said. “So far, the gun-grabbers have successfully kept the exact wording of their new scheme under wraps. But looking at previous versions of the U.N. Small Arms Treaty, you and I can get a good idea of what’s likely in the works.” The State Department has issued a series of key U.S. “redlines,” or statements, that the ATT must supposedly address:
- The Second Amendment to the Constitution must be upheld.
- There will be no restrictions on civilian possession or trade of firearms otherwise permitted by law or protected by the U.S. Constitution.
- There will be no dilution or diminishing of sovereign control over issues involving the private acquisition, ownership, or possession of firearms, which must remain matters of domestic law.
- The U.S. will oppose provisions inconsistent with existing U.S. law or that would unduly interfere with our ability to import, export, or transfer arms in support of our national security and foreign policy interests.
- The international arms trade is a legitimate commercial activity, and otherwise lawful commercial trade in arms must not be unduly hindered.
- There will be no requirement for reporting on or marking and tracing of ammunition or explosives.
- There will be no lowering of current international standards.
- Existing nonproliferation and export control regimes must not be undermined.
- The ATT negotiations must have consensus decision making to allow us to protect U.S. equities.
- There will be no mandate for an international body to enforce an ATT.
Despite the State Department’s so-called redlines, opponents of the treaty—the terms of which have not yet been made public—believe the ATT will eventually:
- Enact tougher licensing requirements, making law-abiding Americans cut through even more bureaucratic red tape just to own a firearm legally
- Confiscate and destroy all “unauthorized” civilian firearms
- Ban the trade, sale, and private ownership of all semi-automatic weapons
- Create an international gun registry, setting the stage for full-scale gun confiscation
Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton has cautioned gun owners to take this initiative seriously, stating that the U.N. “is trying to act as though this is really just a treaty about international arms trade between nation states, but there is no doubt that the real agenda here is domestic firearms control.” Because a draft of the treaty hasn’t been and won’t likely be released before the end of the conference, gun advocates are worried that the worst elements of ATT would be concealed so that citizen lobbying against it couldn’t be organized in time to defeat it.
Political analyst Dick Morris has said he believes President Obama will sign the ATT on July 27, setting the stage for U.S. Senate advise and consent hearings during the lame-duck session after this year’s elections. He predicts that during that session, President Obama could enlist two-thirds of the Senate required to approve a treaty and get a resolution of ratification.
If that prediction comes true, then the enforcement arms for ATT in the U.S. would be the Justice Dept. and ATF.