On Tuesday, the United Nations passed a new treaty regarding international trade of arms that, as UNICEF’s chief of Child Protection puts it,
“asks States to explicitly consider the risk that an arms transfer could facilitate serious acts of violence against women and children before allowing it to proceed…This is critical given that weapons are now one of the leading causes of death of children and adolescents in many countries, including many that are not experiencing war.”
But the treaty must now be ratified by two-thirds of the United States Senate in order for it to become law, a hurdle that may be too much to overcome for advocates of the resolution. As reported by Reuters, the Senate already took symbolic action against the treaty nearly two weeks before it was even passed by the UN. So, why the opposition? What’s in the wording of the treaty that’s so bad?
The awfulness of this allegedly frightening legislation is tackled in the piece from Reuters by two opponents. First, a member of the Senate:
“The U.N. Arms Trade Treaty … would require the United States to implement gun-control legislation as required by the treaty, which could supersede the laws our elected officials have already put into place,” said Senator James Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Next, a warning from executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, Chris Cox:
“We have always been clear that any treaty which does not expressly exclude civilian firearms ownership from its scope will be met with the NRA’s greatest force of opposition.”
Oh, no! The UN is going to disarm all U.S. citizens by superseding our laws! Grab your guns and run for cover!
Or (and I know this is a crazy idea before I suggest it) we could actually try reading the words contained within the treaty itself. If we did that, we might find out something amazing: the ignorant statements by Inhofe and the NRA show they did not read it. If they did, they might have noticed this statement…on the first page:
Reaffirming the sovereign right of any State to regulate and control conventional arms exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional system.
In other words, if your country has..I don’t know…let me make something up…let’s say, a constitutional amendment allowing the right to bear arms, that right does not change at all. Not one bit. The treaty says it cannot “supersede” your countries domestic laws on arms.
But just in case they skipped reading the first page, there is this on the second:
Mindful of the legitimate trade and lawful ownership, and use of certain conventional arms for recreational, cultural, historical, and sporting activities, where such trade, ownership and use are permitted or protected by law.
Again, not infringing on anyone’s gun ownership rights or rewriting the civilian firearms laws in the United States.
In fact, as noted by Reuters, we already follow the provisions of the treaty:
The United States is already in compliance with the treaty’s terms because of its weapons export and import laws, they (diplomats and activists) said, but U.S. approval could put pressure on other nations to adopt similar limits.
And if we take a look at current U.S. law on arms importing and exporting (here) and compare it with the treaty, it does appear we do have these regulations in place.
With all this being said, we should ask Inhofe and the NRA why they oppose this treaty so vehemently?
And this time, they should probably try giving answers that make it look like they have read the treaty with some distinct details instead of just automatically opposing any legislation regarding guns.