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UN Conference on Arms Trade Treaty Underway

by George Prudden, published

The United Nations is currently debating the content of an arms trade treaty, which would cover not only what most people would think of as weapons of war, but also "small arms," which includes rifles and carbines in the UN Register of Conventional Arms. In a joint statement by France, the UK, Germany, and Sweden:

"We believe that an arms trade treaty should cover all types of conventional weapons, notably including small arms and light weapons, all types of munitions, and related technologies. It is also of great importance that the treaty includes strong provisions on human rights, international humanitarian law and sustainable development."

The intent is clearly to globally regulate all firearms and ammunition. There is some support in the US for such an arms trade agreement as well. The prior administration had made it clear that the US was not going to participate in the negotiations nor be a signatory, but under the current administration, there is now US participation.

There are also some supporters outside of the administration.

Writing in Newsday, Stuart F. Platt and Galen Carey said:

"There's less oversight on sales of grenade launchers in international markets than of iPods or bananas. Yes, you read that right: We have strict international rules and regulations on selling fruit and MP3 players, but no unifying international laws governing the sale of weapons."

In The Hill, Retired Major General Roger R. Blunt wrote:

"We have international agreements regulating the cross-border sale of iPods and bananas, but we have no global treaties governing the international sale of weapons. The ATT would fix that by becoming the first-ever treaty governing the international trade of conventional weapons."

For readers that did a double take, that's not a duplicate quote. Going back and reviewing the sources, it turns out that they both just happen to like the iPod and banana analogy, as Dave Workman at The Examiner points out, speculating on where the two commentators are getting their talking points.

One of the concerns of those in the US who do not support this treaty is an important one regarding self defense. The UN Office of Disarmament Affairs writes:

"Governments remain primarily responsible for providing security and protecting their populations, keeping to the rule of law."

However, the Supreme Court has ruled that the police (the primary actors for the government in law enforcement) are under no obligation to protect individuals, most recently in TOWN OF CASTLE ROCK, COLORADO v. GONZALES, leaving law abiding citizens in an untenable position but for another Supreme Court decision in the landmark Heller case, in which the high court ruled that the Constitution guarantees the individual right of a US citizen to own a firearm for their personal defense.

So while the UN treaty is based on the notion of governments providing protection to individuals, the US Supreme Court has ruled that governments are under no obligation to, and that individuals in the US have the constitutional right to possess firearms to make provision for themselves.

Furthermore, the Obama Administration's Department of Justice is currently under investigation for the infamous Fast and Furious operation, in which federal Justice officials knowingly allowed or even facilitated the illegal purchase of thousands of firearms as well as their illegal smuggling across the US border into Mexico. It's fair to ask how US citizens can reasonably expect their government to keep them safe from violent crime in light of this federal scandal.

That the same administration is advocating for treaties regulating the trade in firearms is nothing short of breathtaking. Meanwhile, the Obama Administration has even forbidden the re-importation of M-1 Garand rifles from Korea. These are rifles that were manufactured in the US, sent to Korea during the Korean War, and were going to be re-imported.

Should the arms trade treaty pass and the US become a signatory, it must still be ratified by the Senate. Over 50 Senators say they do not support it.

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