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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Do Gun Owners Have Reason To Be Suspicious?

by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, July 14, 2012.) 
The words “in all likelihood”
strip away all comfort.
An Arms Trade Treaty is under discussion at the United Nations, a treaty that aims to regulate international trade in conventional weapons. It’s not about the big guns – the nuclear, chemical and biological stuff.

Conventional weapons are everything else, from tanks and missiles all the way down to your riflescope and ammunition. So the treaty will cover the guns and other equipment Americans typically use for the lawful activities of self-defense, hunting, and target shooting.

The U.N. denies that the treaty will affect lawfully owned domestic weapons, but a paper by one of its own agencies distributed in its own press kit about the treaty says, “United Nations agencies have come across many situations in which various types of conventional weapons have been… misused by lawful owners” and that the “arms trade must therefore be regulated in ways that would… minimize the risk of misuse of legally owned weapons.”

It’s not up to the U.N. to regulate the use of private, legally owned firearms in the United States, or any country. We have plenty of our own laws for that.

Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, says “This treaty, in all likelihood, will not require the United States to do anything more than it is already doing.” The words “in all likelihood” strip away all comfort.

In addition Kimball says nothing in the treaty seeks to regulate domestic gun possession, and that gun rights within a nation are totally outside the scope of the treaty. If true, why doesn’t language in the treaty specifically exclude civilian weapons and traditional self-defense weapons? It excludes nothing.

“In all likelihood” Kimball is wrong, but I can suggest an easy way to make him right, to diminish dissent from gun advocates in the United States, and to deal with his suspicious phrase “in all likelihood” – all at the same time. Just put language into the treaty that explicitly protects the rights the Constitution of the United States guarantees to its citizens (including the Second Amendment), clearly acknowledges the supremacy of the Constitution over the treaty, and totally prohibits any influence of the treaty on domestic firearms production and trade, including the import and export of non-military weapons and accessories.

If that language is there, in clear and unmistakable terms which prevent creative interpretations, those who advocate for the treaty would point it out.

That’s not to say the treaty would have no other problems. As it stands now, its proposed language has not been made public, which adds more suspicion. The Heritage Foundation lays out this objection, one of many: “One reason for skepticism about the ATT is the secrecy of the process that will define its critical concepts.”

The Arms Control Association has published a paper accusing the National Rifle Association of “misleading rhetoric” in opposition to the treaty, saying the NRA “ignores the fact that the Obama administration has repeatedly stated that it opposes any infringement on national arms transfer and ownership.” That statement itself is misleading, because Barack Obama has a history of opposition to private firearms ownership that precedes his election to the Presidency.

Granted, the President has introduced no gun control legislation, but does that mean he has abandoned efforts at further gun regulation? He’s the same President who, on March 30, 2011, assured gun control advocate Sarah Brady, “I just want you to know that we are working on it. We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar.” This has been reported even in the liberal press.

This is the same President whose administration fails to provide evidence that the debacle called “Fast and Furious” was not an “under the radar” scheme to blame American gun laws for carnage in Mexico, keeping the program hidden even from the Mexican government. Further, the Obama administration itself has said the President is exploring potential changes to gun laws that can be secured strictly through executive order.

Beyond the issue of what it might do to our Second Amendment rights, the ATT is a giant over-reach, and one no one knows all that it will touch. Americans should be opposed to the treaty and urge their Senators to vote against ratifying it. The President plans to sign it on July 27.