The United Nations released its first draft of the UN Arms Trade Treaty earlier this week. No one who knows anything about it is happy with it. Those who pressed the hardest for the treaty say that it will not stop criminals or terrorists from getting guns. And Second Amendment advocates know that this treaty is a trap and a threat to their rights under the Constitution.
Text of the UN Arms Trade Treaty
The International Association to Protect Civilian Arms Rights (IAPCAR) published yesterday the first draft of the UN Arms Trade Treaty as soon as they got it. (The Hill published it in PDF form the same day.) Dave Workman, the Seattle Gun Rights Examiner, shared the Preamble and some concerns that gun rights advocates raised.
[T]he proposed treaty is still getting support from the United Kingdom and the French delegation let slip that their ultimate goal is to regulate legitimately owned “weapons.” Gun rights activists will quickly note that this has not worked too well for the British.
This is the key. Gun control advocates around the world want to use the UN Arms Trade Treaty to regulate firearms inside a State Party’s borders. This is not merely about throttling the international arms trade, as treaty advocates insist.
Article 2 lists what the UN Arms Trade Treaty will cover. Pay attention to Paragraph A-1-h: small arms and light weapons. That includes any pistol, rifle, or shotgun, no matter how few rounds it carries.
Paragraph A-4 reads:
Each State Party shall establish or update, as appropriate, and maintain a national control list that shall include the items that fall within Paragraph 1 above, as defined on a national basis, based on relevant UN instruments at a minimum. Each State Party shall publish its control list to the extent permitted by national law.
That is a national arms registry. And “arms” includes the kind that civilians normally own.
Make no mistake: the UN Arms Trade Treaty puts pistols, rifles, and shotguns in the same class as battle tanks, combat aircraft, warships, and other items that Paragraphs A-1-a through g list. The UN Arms Trade Treaty exempt small arms that civilians own. To the UN, a civilian who owns a gun is the same as an irregular or illegal combatant. Nor does the UN Arms Trade Treaty text say anything about the right of a person to have a weapon to defend himself. The text talks about the rights of “State Parties” but not of persons.
According to Article 17, the treaty enters into force after sixty-five countries have signed and ratified it. But Article 18 says that a country may withdraw from the treaty whenever it likes, after giving a reason to pull out.
Article 20 presents a bigger problem. The treaty is amendable. Two-thirds of countries present and voting can change the treaty. So the United States Senate might ratify a treaty that can then change on the word of seven countries. (Article 20 does not say how many countries form a quorum. One activist said that as few as ten countries could confer and vote on an amendment. Even in that case that amendment would be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the UN Arms Trade Treaty.)
How people react
The flag of the United Nations. (Public domain as per UN policy.)
Gun control activists decried this draft of the UN Arms Trade Treaty, according to Michelle Nichols of Reuters. “[This] has more holes than a leaky bucket!” wailed Anna MacDonald of Oxfam America. They and others want the putative President, Barack H. Obama, to plug the leaks.
The draft is in the hands of a special United Nations conference. If that conference cannot produce unanimous agreement by Friday, the treaty will not be ready to sign.
Most of the objections seem to come from countries who want to sell (or buy) much heavier arms with impunity. But American observers told Fox News that the treaty could give enough standing for someone to enjoin US firms from selling arms to Israel or Taiwan.
This paragraph in the Hill article contradicts itself:
Advocates say the treaty would bring much of the world in line with U.S. standards without affecting the rules that govern domestic sales. And they say gun enthusiasts are wrong to worry about gun rights, since the Constitution trumps international law.
But those same advocates want the UN Arms Trade Treaty to “cover” weapons that civilians own. And they want that “national list” in Article 2, Paragraph A-4. And if the Constitution trumps international law, why bother offering to the Senate a treaty that conflicts with it?
Ted Bromund, at the Heritage Foundation, explains the Constitutional issue. Once the (putative) President signs the treaty, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties will bind it to avoid defeating its “object and purpose” while waiting for the Senate to vote it up or down. This, he says, is another example of the “administrative state.” Which means: Congress is abdicating too much power to the President. The Senate in particular is letting the (putative) President do far too much without its “advice and consent.”