The National Rifle Association (NRA) and other organizations advocating for the 2nd Amendment are opposing President Barack Obama’s formal endorsement of a treaty limiting the sale of small arms among members of the United Nations.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) strongly condemned an eleventh-hour change in the Obama Administration’s standing caveat — one that Obama’s predecessors also held — that the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty should not be brought to a General Assembly vote until it had the consensus support of all member nations.
That condemnation came after an unnamed representative of the President’s position told reporters Tuesday that the President now believed the U.N. should vote on the treaty regardless of whether all member nations were in agreement on whether a vote should even take place:
It’s important to the United States and the defense of our interests to insist on consensus. But every state in this process has always been conscious of the fact that if consensus is not reached in this process, that there are other ways to adopt this treaty, including via a vote of the General Assembly.
The spokesman also revealed that, if a vote is held, the United States will vote in favor of such a treaty before the General Assembly – whether there’s full international consensus or not.
Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened later on Tuesday, with the U.N. voting overwhelmingly in favor of the Arms Trade Treaty.
In leading American support for the treaty’s approval, the President ignored outright a 53-46 Senate vote last month that specifically blocks the United States from signing the treaty.
While that measure now appears nothing more than an academic exercise, the Senate still holds ratification power over the United States’ participation in the treaty. Two-thirds of the Senate must now approve the U.N. vote, which is highly unlikely.
The NSSF’s Lawrence Keane blasted the Obama Administration’s reversal that led to Tuesday’s vote, saying it reveals the President’s ulterior desire to place global handshakes above the U.S. Constitution at the precise moment when the Senate is set to wage a largely partisan fight over Federal gun control here at home:
This abrupt about-face on the long-standing United States requirement for “consensus” illustrates that the Obama Administration wants a sweeping U.N. arms control treaty. We are troubled by the timing of the Obama Administration’s decision to abandon consensus on the eve of the Senate debate on pending gun-control measures. The United Nations treaty would have a broad impact on the U.S. firearms industry and its base of consumers in the U.S.
We hope that the Members of the U.S. Senate are closely watching the White House abandon its principles and promises in the rush to ramrod this flawed treaty into effect. Not only will they later be asked to ratify this attack on our constitution and sovereignty, but they will also be lavished with new promises from the administration in its drive to push a broad gun control agenda through the U.S. Senate when it returns from recess. They would be right to question those promises strongly.
Secretary of State John Kerry, meanwhile, celebrated the treaty’s approval before the U.N., pledging the treaty won’t create a slippery slope toward a future in which global policy votes supplant Americans’ Constitutional freedoms:
[The Treaty is] a strong, effective and implementable Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that can strengthen global security while protecting the sovereign right of states to conduct legitimate arms trade.
Nothing in this treaty could ever infringe on the rights of American citizens under our domestic law or the Constitution, including the Second Amendment.
The NRA and NSSF strongly dispute that argument, saying the treaty does cover the civilian firearms market in the United States, and that it will have negative effects on the import of foreign-made firearms presently sold on the U.S. consumer market. They also argue that language in the treaty referring to the “transit” of firearms is so broad it can be applied to anything from mass shipments of weapons to a single person who carries a hunting gun on a trip abroad.