Last month the Obama Administration joined 114 other countries and signed the UN Arms Trade Treaty, immediately setting off howls of protests by the NRA and its Congressional supporters insisting that this was just another example of the Administration’s desire to disarm America and take away all our guns. According to Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) the treaty undermines the 2nd Amendment guarantees of gun ownership because, among other provisions, it requires importers to identify end-users for whom small arms have been bought.
I have read every word of the treaty, it’s not a terribly lengthy document, and I think it would be worthwhile if I spend one post explaining what the treaty actually says. Not that I’m assuming that anything I say will change anyone’s mind about the treaty, or the 2nd Amendment or anything else related to guns. But in all the hysteria that has been drummed up about this document by the NRA and its allies and friends, I have never seen the treaty text itself. So here goes.
The treaty begins with a preamble that “reaffirms the sovereign right of any State to regulate and control conventional arms exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional system.” This statement isn’t buried in some footnote; it’s found at the very beginning of the treaty itself. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t this mean that our government, and not the United Nations, gets to figure out how guns will be handled within the United States?
But what about the question of end users, because here’s where the NRA believes there lurks an attempt to create not just a national, but an international registry of all guns. I quote again from the treaty text: “Each State Party shall maintain national records, pursuant to its national laws and regulations, of its issuance of export authorizations or its actual exports of the conventional arms….” Now note what it says about imports: ” Each State Party is encouraged to include in those records: the quantity, value, model/type, authorized international transfers of conventional arms actually transferred, details of exporting State(s), importing State(s), transit and trans-shipment State(s), and end users, as appropriate.”
This is in fact no different than what U.S. exporters and importers must now do to comply with State Department and ATF regulations on export and import of small arms. But the operative word here is encouraged; not required, just encouraged. Signatories to this treaty are not bound by any requirements to either compile lists of import end-users (which we compile already) or deliver such lists to any international body. The only required record-keeping involves the destination of exports, and correct me if I’m wrong, but only American citizens possess 2nd Amendment guarantees.
The NRA, the Washington Times, and all the other pro-gun stalwarts who make a living by ginning up the fears of gun owners every time that someone says anything even remotely connected to gun control might do us all a favor and stop concocting arguments out of whole cloth. I know, I know, Obama’s a liberal which means he hates guns and he’ll do anything to take them away. But maybe it’s time to stop worrying about Obama and start thinking about how to convince rational and reasonable people that responsible gun ownership is the American way.
The real enemy of gun owners isn’t Washington and isn’t the UN. The real enemy is any discussion in which facts and logic give way to noise and a lack of common sense. I don’t need the NRA or Mayor Bloomberg to tell me about guns. I can read as well as the next person and figure out what’s really going on. So can you.
- Futureproofing: Making Sure the Arms Trade Treaty Controls Drones and New Robotic Weapons (controlarmsblog.wordpress.com)
- Why Does Obama Think That Treaties Trump the Constitution (richardbleuze.wordpress.com)