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US Gun Lobby May Prevent World from Practical Arms Trade Treaty

by Lucas Eaves, published

The UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty started on Monday. The goal of the conference is to come to an agreement on the international trade of weapons, which has plagued the world for decades.

Once again, the U.S. will play a vital role in the success or failure of these negotiations and to lead to a strong arms trade treaty. However, to come to any kind of acceptable agreement on the world-table, the United States will have to stop listening to its gun lobby.

The last attempt to come to an agreement lasted eleven years, before talks failed in the summer of 2012. This delay was both welcomed and encouraged by political interests in the U.S.

The strategic benefits for President Obama, who was in the middle of a presidential campaign, were obvious. Yet, for the numerous human rights organizations in favor of the treaty and the estimated 325,000 lives that have been taken by armed conflicts worldwide since the failure of the July conference, the consequences were more than political.

The international arms trade, which is worth approximately $100 billion, is larger than the socio-economic development of many regions of the world. It is also responsible for the death of about 2,000 people a day. Yet, no international regulation has ever been put in place to control this trade. Tweet it: Tweet

The Arms Trade Treaty would create a framework that would prohibit the international transfer of weapons in situations where these weapons are "likely to be used for grave violations of international human rights, humanitarian law.” This is a standard already practiced by the U.S. and European countries.

But, because the US is the world's biggest weapons manufacturer, making up to 40 percent of the global market, a treaty cannot exist without its participation. Major steps in that direction were taken when, on Friday, John Kerry said that he will support an arms trade treaty, "that helps address the adverse effects of the international arms trade on global peace and stability." Share the news: Tweet

However, the current environment political environment may not be ready for another heated gun debate, especially on an international level. The gun regulation talks that have followed the Newtown shooting have actually strengthened and funded the pro-gun lobby.

Just last week, Senator Jerry Moran (R–KS), Representative Mike Kelly (R–PA), with the support of  28 Senators and and 121 representatives, introduced a resolution in both houses raising concerns about the Arms Trade Treaty.

The Secretary of State addressed these concerns and reassured that the U.S. will only agree to a treaty that addresses the international transfer of conventional weapons. The American Bar Association also published a white paper in which they explained that the treaty, as drafted during the July conference, was on conformity with the U.S. Constitution and did not infringe on the Second Amendment.

The right to bear arms and the issue of gun control is part of the American exceptionalism that informs the political debate in this country. However, this exceptionalism should not be achieved at the expense of the life of hundred of thousands of people.

The world needs the U.S. to do the right thing, and that is for its leaders to stop listening to the gun lobby for the next two weeks.

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