by Blaine Smith, Associate Editor
America’s 1st Freedom, December 2013
Doth the secretary protest too much? Listening recently to Secretary of State John Kerry insist that the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) poses no threat to the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding American gun owners, it began to sound that way.
Coinciding with headline-grabbing developments with Syria’s and Iran’s chemical and nuclear weapons capabilities, respectively—weapons programs that the U.N., it should be noted, has long proven ineffective in curbing—the Barack Obama administration signed on to the ATT in late September when the national media had its resources trained elsewhere.
Still, for those who wondered what exactly the Obama administration was up to by subjugating the nation’s right to keep and bear arms to the whims of a group of nations less free than our own, Kerry solemnly vowed, “Make no mistake, we would never think about supporting a treaty that is inconsistent with the rights of Americans, the rights of American citizens to be able to exercise their guaranteed rights under our Constitution,” sounding like a guy who really, really wants listeners to believe what he’s saying.
“This treaty will not diminish anyone’s freedom,” Kerry further promised. “In fact, the treaty recognizes the freedom of both individuals and states to obtain, possess and use arms for legitimate purposes.”
The secretary of state further claimed the U.N. ATT is not aimed at the individual’s right to possess arms; but is, in fact, a goodwill attempt by the international community to halt the transfer of small arms from legitimate markets into the hands of criminal organizations across national borders.
All of which might sound reasonable to some. But look closer at the international controls that our sovereign Second Amendment has been subjected to by the Obama administration’s signing of the ATT, and it’s clear that every freedom-loving American has, to this point, protested Obama’s dalliances with the U.N. ATT much too little.
Is that to say the Obama administration has mischaracterized the ATT to the American public? Absolutely.
“The Obama administration is once again demonstrating its contempt for our fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action. “These are blatant attacks on the constitutional rights and liberties of every law-abiding American.”
Just as NRA warned prior to the 2012 elections, the Obama administration has dedicated its second term to a full-scale assault on the Second Amendment rights of Americans through any means at hand. Be it through executive order, legislation or judicial appointment, every avenue available to the Obama administration has been leveraged in service to its anti-gun offensive.
So why wouldn’t the administration use the U.N. to instigate movement in its anti-gun aspirations? It’s a venue that isn’t beholden to immediate oversight by any American contingent other than the Obama administration itself, and is also powerful enough to affect real change—at least when it comes to attacking an American freedom that most at the U.N. seem united in opposing.
After having the majority of its recent anti-gun initiatives defeated by gun owners and the NRA, the Obama administration knew it would find an atmosphere friendly to its freedom-prohibiting designs in the “international community.”
In courting the U.N. gun prohibitionists, the Obama administration had to reverse the George W. Bush administration’s longstanding U.S. policy of refusing to become a signatory to any U.N. treaty or policy that would stand in conflict with the Second Amendment.
Then, it pressed forward in efforts to pass, and promised to sign, a U.N. ATT despite significant bi-partisan majorities in the Senate signaling over and again that the people of the United States neither supported nor wanted to be part of a process that would gut our Constitution.
Soon after the administration revealed it was set to sign the treaty, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., wrote in a letter to President Obama, “as the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, it is my view that you may not take any executive action to implement this treaty, provisionally or otherwise, unless and until: (1) the United States Senate has provided its constitutionally required advice and consent to its ratification; and (2) the Congress has passed any and all required legislation to bring this treaty into effect under United States domestic law.”
Further, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., also sent a letter of protest and warning to the administration. “It is my understanding that you have decided for the United States to become a signatory nation to the United Nation’s Arms Trade Treaty. … I am extremely disappointed to learn of this decision as this treaty is destined to meet the same fate as other U.N.-sponsored treaties that threaten our country’s sovereignty. It will collect dust alongside the Law of the Sea Treaty, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the Kyoto Protocol, to name a few, which have all been rejected by the U.S. Senate and the American people,” he wrote in a letter to Secretary Kerry.
“It has been made clear on several occasions that the president does not have the support of the Senate when it comes to the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty. Most recently, it was made clear at 5 a.m. on March 23, 2013, when 53 senators from both parties went on record to vote for my amendment to the Budget Resolution preventing the United States from entering into the treaty. …”
But what of the administration’s protestations that the ATT is concerned only with cross-border firearm sales to criminal groups? Don’t forget a little BATFE operation named “Fast and Furious,” which saw administration officials surreptitiously funnel firearms into the hands of Mexican drug cartels as a means of building public support for anti-gun legislation. Instead, it has led to death and misery on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border. And the Obama administration still refuses to come clean about that one.
Considering all of this, one must conclude that the Obama administration’s claims regarding the treaty are a ruse. So is the ATT, in fact, an imminent threat to the Second Amendment rights of Americans? According to Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president, it’s a ticking time bomb.
“Once a treaty like the ATT is signed, it never dies,” LaPierre said. “Even if we prevent a two-thirds majority of the U.S. Senate from ratifying the ATT this year, next year or even the year after that, there is nothing to stop a future Senate from dusting off the treaty and ratifying it 10, 20 or even 50 years from now. The text of the treaty specifically states that it ‘shall be of unlimited duration.’”
Further, “the ATT would potentially create an international gun registration system that could eventually pave the way for the full-blown confiscation of firearms owned by American gun owners,” LaPierre said. “Specifically, Articles 8, 12 and 15 of the treaty would create international pressure (and the perfect excuse) for signatory nations to compile ‘records’ of all gun owners who purchase firearms imported into their country—and then supply this sensitive, private information to governments of exporting countries. … In other words, if you bought a shotgun made by an Italian gun maker, the u.s. government would have an obligation to the international community to keep a record of your purchase. Worse, it could be forced as a condition of continuing to receive exports of Italian firearms to provide this information to the Italian government. This would result in nothing less than international gun registration.”
Yet that’s not all. As LaPierre said, “If the U.S. refused to take part in the U.N.’s international gun registry, other nations could potentially ban their domestic firearm manufacturers from exporting firearms to the United States. Considering imported firearms make up more than one-third of the new firearm market in the U.S., this could drive many foreign gun manufacturers out of business; significantly increase the cost of commonly used rifles, shotguns and handguns; and have an immediate and devastating impact on American gun owners.”
Speaking exclusively to America’s 1st Freedom, John Bolton, former United States ambassador to the United Nations for the George W. Bush administration, agreed with LaPierre’s assessment of the dangers posed by the ATT, and also noted several other reasons for gun owners to be gravely concerned.
“The U.N. Arms Trade Treaty is dangerous to the rights of American gun owners because it is a reflection of the anti-gun ideology [of U.N. member nations],” Bolton said, meant “to satisfy the ideological bases” of foreign governments and anti-gun activists here at home.
But while the goal of anti-gun ideologues championing the ATT is known—civilian disarmament—Bolton notes that the language itself used in the ATT is intentionally “indirect.”
“When it’s explicit which types of firearms are targeted, gun owners can mobilize to form opposition,” Bolton said. “But to prevent illicit arms sales, the ATT says the government should establish a ‘national central system’ for keeping track of sales, because to make the ban effective, we must know what’s being exported. And in the end, the only way to comply is to have more registries.”
And it’s not Senate ratification alone, Bolton says, that serves as the demarcation for U.S. compliance to the ATT. The Obama administration could impose executive orders that enforce parts or all of the ATT. Also, said Bolton, the Vienna Convention has established this international norm for treaties: If a nation has signed but not ratified a treaty, that nation cannot take action to defeat the principles of that treaty. Therefore, international pressure could realistically be brought upon the United States to take up any aspects of the ATT.
Oh, and remember Secretary of State Kerry’s claim mentioned earlier that the ATT recognizes legitimate use of firearms by individuals? According to Bolton, passing reference to hunting and the shooting sports is mentioned only in the preamble to the treaty, not as part of the actual, binding language of the treaty.
Now that the ATT is signed, Bolton said gun owners can protect their right to keep and bear arms by encouraging the legislature to continue denying the ATT a chance at ratification. Further, the legislature can monitor the Obama administration to find out in advance if any executive orders related to the ATT are being planned.
“The NRA will continue working with the United States Senate to oppose ratification of this assault on our fundamental freedom,” said NRA’s Cox, noting that to win the battle against the ATT in the U.S. Senate, gun owners must pool their strength by joining together with the NRA.
LaPierre agreed. “If the U.N. gun-ban treaty is ever ratified into law, we may never get a second chance to save the Second Amendment,” he said. “So please, call your U.S. senators and urge them to stand strong—publicly and defiantly—against the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty. Recruit your fellow gun owners and patriotic friends and neighbors to join NRA and take an active role in this fight to protect our freedom and our sovereignty from this treacherous assault.
“As NRA members,” LaPierre added, “you and I are the brick wall standing between the United Nations and our Second Amendment freedoms.”
America's 1st Freedom
NRA's pure news magazine especially for our membership. Its mission is to deliver professional, compelling, accurate, timely and hard-hitting journalism that tells the truth about the threats to our Second Amendment rights.