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Ted R. Bromund, Ph.D. : On the U.N. Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty

Senator Jerry Moran

Yesterday (June 21), Senator Jerry Moran (R–KS) gave an important speech at The Heritage Foundation on the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), negotiations on which will open on July 2 in New York. ( From 2-27 July, New York )

Through letters to the Administration, legislation, and amendments, Moran has played the leading role in seeking to ensure, with his colleagues in both parties, that the ATT does not infringe on rights protected under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Moran made a valuable contribution by pointing out that concerns about the ATT should not focus only on the Second Amendment. As he noted, the ATT will apply equally to dictatorships and democracies, a dangerous idea that implies that dictatorships have the same right to buy and sell weapons that democracies do.

But in the context of the Second Amendment, the Senator noted that we should not be content with the Administration's pledge not to negotiate a treaty that infringes on our rights. That is a step forward, but it is not enough. The Senator then set out four criteria that would put flesh on the bones of that pledge.

  1. The ATT should explicitly recognize the legitimacy of hunting, sport shooting, and other lawful activities related to the private ownership of firearms and related materials.
  2. The ATT should not simply contain a vague reference in the preamble to national constitutional protections. Its scope should explicitly exclude small arms, light weapons, and related materials that are defined under domestic law by national authority as legal for private ownership.
  3. The ATT should not contain any open-ended obligations that could imply any need to impose domestic controls on any of these items.
  4. The ATT should explicitly state that any assertion of the right of sovereign states to individual or collective self-defense does not prejudice the inherent right of personal self-defense.

Let's hope that the Senate, and the Administration, take these concerns seriously, for the U.N. is unlikely to do so.

Shortly after Moran finished his speech, the U.N. released its press kit for the July conference. The kit's cover letter closes with a sneering criticism of “gun-lobby organizations,” and that tone continues throughout the kit, which makes two things very clear.

First, the U.N. is willing to be a lot more explicit in its criticism of “gun-lobby organizations” than it is of dictators and terrorists. Second, the U.N. isn't worried that dictators will stop the ATT; it's worried that Americans concerned about the Second Amendment will do so.

- June 21, 2012 at 6:00 pm

The Arms Trade Treaty will affect “legally owned weapons” - U.N.


Yesterday (June 22), the U.N. released its press kit for the July conference that will finalize the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The most interesting item in the kit is a lengthy paper by the U.N.'s Coordinating Action on Small Arms (CASA) program titled “The Impact of Poorly Regulated Arms Transfers on the Work of the UN.”

This paper perpetuates the belief, on which much of the ATT is based, that the big problem the world faces is a lack of agreed standards on arms transfers. That's wrong: The big problem the world faces in this regard is that many U.N. member states are dictatorships, supporters of terrorists, or simply incapable of controlling their own borders.

But the paper makes it clear that the job of the U.N.—as the U.N. itself sees it—is to make the case for a very broad treaty. As CASA puts it, “Advocacy efforts should be developed…through relevant reports and op-eds, messages, and statements at relevant meetings and to the press.” So watch out for U.S. taxpayer-funded funded U.N. propaganda in a newspaper near you.

But in spite of its desperate efforts to rebut Second Amendment concerns, the U.N. can't stop stepping on its own shoelaces. After proclaiming that the ATT “does not aim to impede or interfere with the lawful ownership and use of weapons,” the CASA paper goes on to say that “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.”

How, exactly, would the ATT do that if it doesn't “impede” or “interfere” with lawful ownership? The U.N. would have a lot more credibility on the ATT if it didn't imply so regularly that the problem is as much lawful ownership as it is the international arms trade.

Of course, CASA isn't just concerned with lawful ownership; it's also campaigning against “community attitudes” that “contribute to the powerful cultural conditioning that equates masculinity with owning and using a gun, and regards gun misuse by men as acceptable.”

All this just goes to show that the U.N. regards gun ownership—even under national constitutional protection and for lawful activities—as a cultural failure that it needs to redress and that it has no patience at all with the idea that self-defense is an inherent right.

And that is exactly why the concerns that Senator Jerry Moran (R–KS) expressed at Heritage on Tuesday are so important—and why his criteria to ensure that the ATT does not infringe on Second Amendment rights are so valuable.

June 22, 2012 at 8:00 am

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Ted R. Bromund, Ph.D is the Margaret Thatcher Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. . Petroleumworld does not necessarily share these views.

Editor's Note:
This commentary was originally published on June 29, 2012, by The Foundry a blog from The Heritage Foundation, a research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. Petroleumworld reprint this article in the interest of our readers.

All comments posted and published on Petroleumworld, do not reflect either for or against the opinion expressed in the comment as an endorsement of Petroleumworld. All comments expressed are private comments and do not necessary reflect the view of this website. All comments are posted and published without liability to Petroleumworld
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