NRA and Gun Advocates’ Bizarre and Ignorant Opposition to New UN Arms Trade Treaty

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.”

100% accurate. Reloads with clips full of funding from gun manufacturers.

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.

How Do We Decide Our Outrage About Civilian Casualties?

As the casualty count mounts in Syria, the outrage in the United States continues to grow.  The State Department has now made it clear they are very angry with Russia about their arms sales to Syria and because of those transactions, more people are dying.  Outrage is perfectly understood.  In fact let’s take it down to the bare bones.  An entity in one country is killing people in large numbers, many innocent civilians, and they are obtaining their arms from another country who benefits economically from the transaction.  The U.S. government has responded appropriately from a seemingly compassionate perspective.  The following from an article in the Christian Science Monitor:

At the State Department, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland laid the spilling of Syrian blood at Moscow’s feet. “On a daily basis, on an hourly basis, we are seeing Russian- and Soviet-made weaponry used against civilians in towns all across Syria,” she said.

People are dying “on an hourly basis.”  We should all be appalled at this and the idea a foreign country is contributing to the deaths in another through their arms policy is shameful to say the least.  In fact, we as Americans should expect nothing less from our government.  They should ask for policies that lessen the deaths of civilians in other countries and make sure the lives of so many are not ended so violently.  And we actually have another case to look at as far as this outrage goes.

There is another country in the world where arms policies are very negatively affecting the lives of civilians in a second country.  And in this one, the casualty per hour estimate has been projected to be even higher than Syria’s of one per hour.  In this country, it is estimated by the affected government to be one per half hour.  In this country, just like Syria, the death toll is estimated to be over ten thousand in the past year.  The killings in both are very brutal and innocent civilians are not safe in either.

Since the cases are so similar, we would obviously expect similar responses from the U.S. government as they would be doing all they can to stop this type of violence against civilians.  So, has the U.S. government condemned the country responsible for an arms policy that is killing someone every half hour in another country.  Well, no.  But why not?  Who are these other countries and what is this other situation?

The country negatively affected with the one per half hour death rate: Mexico.  The country with the arms policy affecting Mexico: the United States.  What’s the difference?  It certainly doesn’t seem to be casualty count.  If it were, the outrage would be the same from the U.S. government.  A hypothetical State Department quote would look like the one on Syria with a few words changed: On a daily basis, on a half hourly basis, we are seeing American-made weaponry used against civilians in towns all across Mexico.  Which leads to another potentially uncomfortable question for the U.S. government.

Is the selective outrage because the U.S. economy profits from one and the Russian economy profits from the other?  We are left to simply draw our own conclusions judging from the facts.