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Response to Another E-mail on U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

UN Flag LogoI've received another e-mail that's prompted a response on my part (the full text of the e-mail is available below the fold). This e-mail had to do with the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, and the recent vote in the Senate on an amendment to a budget resolution to try to prevent the U.S. from entering into that treaty.

I've heard of the Arms Trade Treaty previously, and blogged about it in the entry, Response to Article on U.N. Arms Trade Treaty. As in that previous article, this e-mail was trying to paint the treaty as a U.N. / Obama attempt to take away Americans' right to own guns. Here's a paragraph from this most recent e-mail.

The U.N. Small Arms Treaty, which has been championed by the Obama Administration, would have effectively placed a global ban on the import and export of small firearms. The ban would have affected all private gun owners in the U.S., and had language that would have implemented an international gun registry on all private guns and ammo.

So, how true is all this, and what is the treaty really about? You can follow the link below to see how the UN describes the treaty in their own words.
United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs - The Arms Trade Treaty

Here's the opening paragraph from that page:

On 2 April 2013, the General Assembly adopted the landmark Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), regulating the international trade in conventional arms, from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships. The treaty will foster peace and security by putting a stop to destabilising arms flows to conflict regions. It will prevent human rights abusers and violators of the law of war from being supplied with arms. And it will help keep warlords, pirates, and gangs from acquiring these deadly tools.

That sounds noble enough, but from looking into this treaty previously, I knew there were potential issues that the U.S. was concerned about with its earlier drafts. You can go to the State Department's website to read what they have to say about the treaty, and the aspects that they pushed for to make sure that the treaty didn't infringe upon U.S. sovereignty or the rights of our citizens.
United States Department of State - Arms Trade Treaty

In particular, here is a list of key points from that page that the U.S. insisted upon.

KEY U.S. REDLINES
  • The Second Amendment to the Constitution must be upheld.
    • There will be no restrictions on civilian possession or trade of firearms otherwise permitted by law or protected by the U.S. Constitution.
    • 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.
  • The U.S. will oppose provisions inconsistent with existing U.S. law or that would unduly interfere with our ability to import, export, or transfer arms in support of our national security and foreign policy interests.
  • The international arms trade is a legitimate commercial activity, and otherwise lawful commercial trade in arms must not be unduly hindered.
  • There will be no requirement for reporting on or marking and tracing of ammunition or explosives.
  • There will be no lowering of current international standards.
  • Existing nonproliferation and export control regimes must not be undermined.
  • The ATT negotiations must have consensus decision making to allow us to protect U.S. equities.
  • There will be no mandate for an international body to enforce an ATT.

That sounds pretty reassuring, but I know not everybody trusts everything the government says. So, below is a link to a paper published by a reputable third party, The American Bar Association. They took a close look at the treaty to determine whether or not it would infringe upon Americans' Second Amendment rights.
Document Cloud - American Bar Association Center for Human Rights White Paper

Here were the opening three paragraphs of that paper, with a couple key phrases put in bold by me:

This White Paper discusses whether the July 26, 2012, President's draft of the Arms Trade Treaty ("the proposed ATT") conflicts with the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. As detailed below, it concludes that the proposed ATT is consistent with the Second Amendment, as that provision has been construed to date by the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, of the United States.

The proposed ATT would obligate the United States to block the transfer of conventional arms across U.S. borders where certain conditions are met. In particular, the proposed ATT would obligate the United States to block both exports and imports of covered arms across its borders whenever those transfers pose an overriding risk of causing certain adverse consequences, including: serious human rights abuse, war crimes, or terrorist acts.

As currently drafted, the treaty would not require new domestic regulations of firearms. Given that existing statutes regulating the import and export of such weapons have withstood constitutional scrutiny in the U.S. courts for decades, it is unlikely that the proposed treaty would compromise Second Amendment rights. Even if a court found that future acts of the President or Congress in implementing the Arms Trade Treaty did not comply with the Second Amendment, such acts or the Treaty itself would be void.

So, we have the UN saying that the treaty is meant to stop human rights abuses, the State Department saying they insisted upon preservation of Americans' Second Amendment rights before considering the treaty, and a respected third party, the American Bar Association, verifying that the treaty won't affect our Second Amendment rights. The opposition to this treaty sounds like fear mongering on the part of various right wing organizations.

Here are a few more links, from an admittedly left leaning source, to provide a counter point to all the right leaning stories I'm sure many of you have seen already:

It's also interesting to note that only three countries voted against the treaty - North Korea, Iran, and Syria - not exactly the countries you want to be grouped with.

As far as final approval of the treaty, it still has to go through the formal approval process with the President and the Senate. This recent vote by the Senate was merely symbolic, and doesn't actually mean anything.

Now, the State Department still needs to closely review the treaty and make sure that everything in the final version is okay, but the current opposition seems so irrational. It's based on a fear that by all indications doesn't match with reality.

The e-mail I received said to take careful note of who voted in opposition to the amendment, i.e. those in favor of at least considering the treaty. I would agree - they were the only sensible politicians in the Senate. And I would add that you should also note who voted in opposition to the treaty - the ones obstructing progress in the world. Unsurprisingly given the current political environment, the vote fell nearly along party lines. Not a single Republican opposed the anti-treaty amendment, and only a few Democrats supported it. Given the purpose of the treaty to try to stop human rights abuses, and the fact that the U.N., the U.S. State Department, and the American Bar Association have all stated that it will not affect Americans' right to own guns, you have to wonder just what the opposition is thinking. Even if the treaty turned out to have provisions that would attempt to limit our gun ownership rights, it would be superseded by the Constitution, so there's really no danger at all. Why would they out of hand oppose a treaty with such noble goals? Is political showmanship more important to these people than are the victims of tyrannical regimes and terrorists?

More Info:


For those interested, here is the full text of the e-mail I received. As normal, I did a little cleaning up with the formatting, but tried to stay fairly faithful to the original e-mail.

Subject: Fwd: Close call-= for UN ARMS TREATY Send this list around so every one will know who to vote against [ out of office] next election. Print it out and take it to work and show it to every one you know. These Politicans are against our way of life in America. They are just Plain EVIL... Remember guns don't kill, its People with evil in there hearts or those that can't control themselves...

---

Date: July 22, 2013
Subject: Fwd: Close call

Look who is first on the list. *even RINO Republicans

Received this from a friend.

---

Thought you might like to know how your senator vote Makes you wonder who you will vote for next election!

Extremely important to know.

Over the past weekend, we came four votes away from the US Senate giving our Constitutional rights over to the United Nations. In a 53-46 vote, the senate narrowly passed a measure that will stop the United States from entering into the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.

The Statement of Purpose from the Bill reads:

"To uphold Second Amendment rights and prevent the United States from entering into the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty."

The U.N. Small Arms Treaty, which has been championed by the Obama Administration, would have effectively placed a global ban on the import and export of small firearms. The ban would have affected all private gun owners in the U.S., and had language that would have implemented an international gun registry on all private guns and ammo.

Astonishingly, 46 out of our 100 United States Senators were willing to give away our Constitutional rights to a foreign power.

Here are the 46 senators that voted to give your rights to the U.N.

Baldwin (D-WI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bennett (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Coons (D-DE)
Cowan (D-MA)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Harkin (D-IA)
Hirono (D-HI)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kaine (D-VA)
King (I-ME)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murphy (D-CT)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schatz (D-HI)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Warner (D-VA)
Warren (D-MA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)

People: This needs to go viral. These Senators voted to let the UN take OUR guns. They need to lose their next election. We have been betrayed. 46 Senators Voted to Give your 2nd Amendment Constitutional Rights to the U.N.

Please send this to SOMEONE!

Did you notice all were democrats? I also noticed two independents, one from Vermont and one from Maine.


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