Ever heard of the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)?
How about the UN gun control treaty? — which is what the ATT is really about.
As Patrick Goodenough recounts for CNS News, July 5, 2012, the Obama administration is taking part in month-long negotiations at UN headquarters aimed at finalizing the treaty, with lobbyists lined up on opposing sides. Although the Bush administration in 2006 cast the lone negative vote when 153 nations passed a U.N. General Assembly resolution that began the treaty-drafting process, Obama and Hillary Clinton reversed that position in 2009 by supporting the ATT.
Supporters say the treaty will save millions of lives. Despite UN’s insistence that the ATT will have no impact on civilian gun ownership, opponents of the treaty argue that it will restrict our Second Amendment rights at home and U.S. arms sales policies abroad.
So what is the truth? Is the Arms Trade Treaty a sneaky way to restrict our 2nd Amendment rights by imposing gun control on American citizens?
This much we know:
1. The GOP is against the treaty. In a letter to Obama and Hillary, 130 Republican lawmakers warned that they would oppose the appropriation or authorization of any taxpayer money to implement a “flawed” treaty. Their reasons are that the ATT could negatively affect U.S. security, foreign policy and economic interests – as well as Americans’ constitutional rights. The letter says: “The ATT must not accept that free democracies and totalitarian regimes have the same right to conduct arms transfers: this is a dangerous piece of moral equivalence. Moreover, the ATT must not impose criteria for determining the permissibility of arms transfers that are vague, easily politicized, and readily manipulated,” referring in particular to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and Israel. “Washington is the only capital that now sells weapons to Taipei, aiding its defense against Beijing’s unprecedented arms buildup,” Heritage Foundation senior fellow Peter Brookes wrote in an op-ed. “China would love to cut off those sales.”
2. Second Amendment advocacy groups are adamantly opposed to the treaty, which Gun Owners of America calls “a backdoor attempt by the Obama administration to impose radical gun control on America citizens.” National Rifle Association vice-president Wayne LaPierre accused Obama of working behind the scenes with the U.N. on a “treaty that could effectively ban or severely restrict civilian ownership of firearms worldwide.”
3. The Obama administration vows it will uphold and safeguard the Second Amendment: “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.” Abroad, the U.S. will oppose any provisions that would “unduly interfere with our ability to import, export, or transfer arms in support of our national security and foreign policy interests.” Further, the administration pledges not to accept a treaty that covers ammunition or explosives — which Britain, France, and Sweden want — or one that establishes an international enforcement body, which is wanted by a powerful coalition of non-governmental organizations including Amnesty International and Oxfam.
Whom to believe?
As always, the answer is in the primary source document — the proposed UN Arms Trade Treaty itself. Here are the important sections from the treaty which I am rendering as answers to questions. All words, phrases and sentences between quotation marks (“…”) are in and from the treaty. Word in italics colored pink are my editorial comments. (You can read the treaty for yourself, here.)
1. What is the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty?
“a comprehensive, legally binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms, on a step-by-step basis among all States Members of the United Nations.”
2. What are the treaty’s purpose and objectives?
“This Treaty will seek to:
1. Promote the goals and objectives of the United Nations Charter;
2. Establish the highest possible common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms;
3. Prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit transfer, illicit production and illicit brokering of conventional arms and their diversion into the illicit market, including for use in transnational organized crime and terrorism; [Hmm, wasn’t this exactly what Obama’s Fast & Furious gunrunning-to- Mexican-crimelords operation about?]
4. Contribute to international and regional peace, security and stability by preventing international transfers of conventional arms that contribute to or facilitate: human suffering, serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, violations of United Nations Security Council sanctions and arms embargoes and other international obligations, armed conflict, the displacement of people, transnational organized crime, and terrorist acts, and thereby undermine peace, reconciliation, safety, security, stability and sustainable social and economic development;
5. Promote transparency and accountability in import, export, and transfers of conventional arms;
6. Be universal in its application.”
3. How does the treaty define “conventional arms”?
“For the purposes of this Treaty, conventional arms shall include any items that fall within the following categories:
(b) Military vehicles;
(c) Artillery systems;
(d) Military aircraft (manned or unmanned);
(e) Military helicopters (manned or unmanned);
(f) Naval vessels (surface and submarine vessels armed or equipped for
(g) Missiles and missile systems (guided or unguided);
(h) Small arms;
(i) Light weapons;
(j) Ammunition for use with weapons referred to in paragraphs (a) to (i);
(k) Parts or components specially and exclusively designed for any of the categories set out in paragraphs (a) to (j);
(l) Technology and equipment specially and exclusively designed and used to develop, manufacture or maintain any of the items in the categories set out in paragraphs (a) to (k).”
4. If the Obama administration signs the treaty, what would be the United States’ obligations?
“1. A State Party shall not authorize a transfer of conventional arms from, to or through territories under its jurisdiction if the transfer would violate any measure adopted by the Security Council acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, in particular arms embargoes.
2. A State Party shall not authorize a transfer of conventional arms from, to or through territories under its jurisdiction if the transfer violates any of its other relevant international, regional or subregional obligations or commitments.
A State Party shall not authorize a transfer of conventional arms if there is a substantial risk that those conventional arms would:
1. Be used in a manner that would seriously undermine peace and security or provoke, prolong or aggravate internal, regional, subregional or international instability.
2. Be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international humanitarian law.
3. Be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international human rights law.
4. Be used to commit or facilitate serious violations of international criminal law, including genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
5. Seriously impair poverty reduction and socio-economic development or seriously hamper the sustainable development of the recipient State.
6. Be diverted to unauthorized end-users for use in a manner inconsistent with the principles, goals and objectives of the Treaty, taking into account the risk of corruption.
7. Be used in the commission of transnational organized crime as defined in the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
8. Be used to support, encourage or perpetrate terrorist acts.”
5. How would the treaty be implemented?
“Each State Party shall take the necessary legislative and administrative measures, to adapt, as necessary, national laws and regulations to implement the obligations of this Treaty.”
6. How would the treaty be enforced?
“1. Each State Party shall adopt legislation or other appropriate measures, including appropriate law enforcement and judicial mechanisms, to ensure its ability to enforce domestically the obligations of this Treaty and to prohibit the transfer of arms from any location under that State’s jurisdiction and control, unless authorized in accordance with the Treaty.
2. Each State Party shall establish effective penalties or other appropriate measures for violations of this Treaty by any entity under its jurisdiction and control. Each State Party shall adopt such measures as may be necessary to provide for the investigation and prosecution of individuals and other entities for offences violating the Treaty and relevant national laws.”
7. How can a government or country withdraw from the treaty?
“1. This Treaty shall be of unlimited duration.
2. A State Party may, by written notification addressed to the Depositary, withdraw from this Treaty. The withdrawal shall take effect one hundred and eighty days after the date of receipt of the notification, unless the notification specifies a later date.
3. A State shall not be discharged, by reason of its withdrawal, from the obligations arising from this Treaty while it was a party to the Treaty, including any financial obligations.”
As you can read for yourself in the above, the UN Arms Trade Treaty will restrict American citizens’ free exercise of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment rights, because:
- Handguns, shotguns, and rifles can be considered “small arms” and “light weapons”.
- The Obama or a subsequent administration (if there will be one) can argue that American citizens’ ownership and use of handguns “seriously undermine peace and security or provoke, prolong or aggravate internal… instability.”
- Under the treaty, the federal government is prohibited from authorizing “a transfer of conventional arms if there is a substantial risk that those conventional arms would…be used to support, encourage or perpetrate terrorist acts.” Do recall that a new study funded and approved by the Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security identifies the following individuals as “domestic terrorists”:
- Believe their “way of life” is under attack;
- “Fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orientation)”;
- “Anti-global”, that is, wary of the loss of American sovereignty;
- “Suspicious of centralized federal authority”;
- “Reverent of individual liberty”;
- “Believe in conspiracy theories that involve grave threat to national sovereignty and/or personal liberty.”
- Opposed to abortion and “groups that seek to smite the purported enemies of God and other evildoers”.
Last March Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) introduced legislation prohibiting any funds for negotiating an ATT that would restrict U.S. citizens’ Second Amendment rights. The bill has 19 co-sponsors, all Republicans.
To conclude, the UN Arms Trade Treaty is a serious threat to our Second Amendment rights. The Obama administration’s insistence that it doesn’t is most disingenuous, not to mention Obama’s Fast & Furious program belies the administration’s professed belief in the treaty’s high-minded purpose against illicit arms transfers.
We’d be insane to sign on to this treaty.
H/t Hardnox, Tina, Wendy.