ThinkProgress.org has their knickers in a twist over a couple of members of the House (Ben Quayle (R-AZ) and Denny Rehberg (R-MT)) who have introduced a bill (H.R. 5846) intended to prevent the U.N.’s Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) from infringing on our Second Amendment rights. “For at least the last two years, far right groups have opposed an imaginary treaty which, in the words of the John Birch Society, would ‘cede control of private Americans’ small arms ownership and use to the United Nations.’ This treaty does not exist. Snopes described reports of such a treaty as “scarelore.” ThinkProgress debunked Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-KY) attempt to fundraise off this imaginary treaty more than a year ago. PolitiFact rejected claims that any UN treaty will limit Second Amendment rights as recently as last week.” All that is true in a false sort of way . . .

The ATT does not yet exist. It’s being negotiated in the desultory sort of fashion one might expect from the U.N.. In 2008 a report on the feasibility, scope and draft parameters for a comprehensive, legally binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms was presented. It was developed by “a Group of Governmental Experts” including such stalwarts of human rights and individual sovereignty as Algeria, China, Colombia, Cuba, the Russian Federation and Indonesia.

Parenthetically, there might not be such concern about the treaty if it wasn’t being handled through the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs. Just sayin’.

Anyway . . . is TP.org correct? Is the JBS talking through their tin-foil hat? That’s a little hard to say since, as far as I can tell (and I’ve talked to people who were observing the negotiations last summer), there is no proposed text yet. That’s supposed to come out of the meeting this summer. So while the concerns of “far right groups” may be over the top, TP.org, Snopes and PolitiFact really can’t say that.

Now I’ll agree that some of the rhetoric is outlandish. There is no way that a UN treaty can override the Second Amendment (at least not without an awful lot of bloodshed), and I don’t think we’ll be seeing any of Dan Simpson’s special squads of police cordoning off city streets. This does not mean, however, that I don’t think there are legitimate concerns to be raised about this treaty.

In April of 2009, President Obama announced his administration’s support for the Inter-American Convention Against Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, (more commonly called by its Spanish acronym, CIFTA, as you might imagine). CIFTA had been signed by Bill back in 1997 but was left to languish by the Bush administration. Obama was resurrecting it to show his support for Mexico and his administration’s opposition to the fast & furious gun-walking occurring on the southern border. Six months later, in October, Hill (excuse me, I mean Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton) came out in favor of the ATT, it was generally believed that that treaty would be modeled on CIFTA.

Who could possibly be opposed to a treaty against illicit manufacturing and trafficking, right? Well as always, the devil is in those damned little details and you really have to dig into the details of CIFTA to find its devilry. The main problem is found in the definitions of all places. Specifically:

ARTICLE I
Definitions

For the purposes of this Convention, the following definitions shall apply:

1. “Illicit manufacturing”: the manufacture or assembly of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials:

b. without a license from a competent governmental authority of the State Party where the manufacture or assembly takes place;

4. “Ammunition”: the complete round or its components, including cartridge cases, primers, propellant powder, bullets, or projectiles that are used in any firearm.

6. “Other related materials”: any component, part, or replacement part of a firearm, or an accessory which can be attached to a firearm.

Then we get down to Article IV, the Legislative Measures and find:

1. States Parties that have not yet done so shall adopt the necessary legislative or other measures to establish as criminal offenses under their domestic law the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials.

Jeez, what kind of tin-foil hatted, black-helicopter fearing conspiracy nut could find a problem in there? So what if people need a Federal License to manufacture guns? We have the same thing now, right?

Except, we don’t because this definition of manufacture includes assembly. So if I have a rifle and I want to put a scope on it, I am assembling a firearm and a related material. Gotta have a license.

If I have an ATI VK-22 and want to replace the trigger, I need a license.

If I want to hand load my ammo, I need a license.

If I want to load my weapon, I need a stinking license? Yep; that constitutes assembly of a firearm and ammunition. Or it conceivably could to the right court.

Of course no one would try to enforce that, would they? Just like FFLs would only cost a few bucks and be available to anyone who wanted one. And no one would ever face unlicensed machine gun charges because their weapon malfunctioned, right? And no FFL would ever lose their license because someone entered ‘N’ instead of ‘No’ on a 4473, right?

So getting back to TP.org:

For the record, even if the United Nations wanted to propose a treaty restricting Americans’ Second Amendment rights, and even if President Obama was absolutely determined to support such a treaty, the treaty would be void for violating the Constitution. As Justice Hugo Black once explained, the Supreme Court has long “recognized the supremacy of the Constitution over a treaty.”

So let’s see if I have this right. TP.org says that the treaty can’t restrict our rights because the Constitution trumps any treaty, but a week ago in this piece, they wrote:

For the record, the Second Amendment does not allow Bennett to bring a gun wherever he wants. As Justice Scalia explained in District of Columbia v. Heller, nothing in that amendment prohibits laws “forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.”

So they are mocking a bill which would prevent any sort of treaty mandated restrictions on our rights, because the Second Amendment is absolute and overrides treaties. But the Second Amendment does permit reasonable restrictions of those absolute rights. And the treaty (which, BTW we haven’t seen the text of) won’t have any of those reasonable restrictions, and even if it did they would be trumped by the Second Amendment prohibition of any restrictions, reasonable or otherwise.

One of my stoner high-school classmates had a saying which covers this kind of “logic” perfectly: What is you smokin’ and why isn’t you sharin’?

37 Responses to UN Arms Trade Treaty: Real Laws for a ‘Fake’ Treaty or Real Treaty Infringing Real Rights?

  1. “We are told, “Trust us; an ATT will not require registration of civilian firearms.”

    The NWO definition of a civilian firearm: a bright pink bolt-action single-shot .22 rifle with an 19″ barrel and iron-sights.

  2. I see absolutely no benefit whatsoever in signing an additional NATO Treaty, particularly if it causes additional regulations and restrictions on firearm ownership. The US makes excellent firearms and ammunition, and does not need any government intervention or ‘improvement.’

    • The U.N. has been trying what I call back door gun control for years, and in many different ways,,, the John Birch Society has been telling the truth from day one , The U.N. is also the back door to a One World Order ,,, One World government for your own good , They (NWO) use double speak , just like in book 1984 , like in save the kids, save the mother earth, save everything ,,, just give us your liberty and freedom… WHAT WAS the last time we got more freedom ,,, Seems we keep seeing our liberty and rights go out the windows ,,, got to stop the bad guys ,,, so just give up a few more freedoms like in our new NDAA law,, read it ,, you no longer have a bill of rights…… Don’t talk to me about tin foil hats…. that’s a sell out of America First…….. DON’T WAKE ME ,, I don’t like hearing all this evil talk… HA.HA..

  3. “No-one would have believed, in the early years of the 21st century, that human affairs in America were being watched from the timeless cesspools of despotic nations. No-one could have dreamed that we were being scrutinized, as someone with a microscope studies creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. Few men even considered the possibility of life without the 2nd Amendment. And yet, across the gulf of the oceans, minds immeasurably inferior to ours regarded this nation and her freedoms with envious eyes, and slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us…”

  4. The president can sign this treaty without ratification of the Senate, then what? We still have our guns. Who is he going to get to confiscate 300 + Million guns from 85 to 133 million people. This news would spread like wild fire and would spark a 2nd Revolution.

    Who are these Bastards that they think theyu can steal my God given right of self-defense?

    • The DHS is Øbama’s Brown Shirt. He barks, they ask how high…

      Do not forget the DHS recently put in an order for 450 million JHT .40 rounds.

      Why?

      The don’t stop illegal’s.

      There are barely over 300 million people in this nation.

      The thirst for power is only quenched by obtaining further power.
      Anyone remember how Alexander the Great supposedly died…?

  5. As I understand it, the real danger posed by this treaty is that it would supersede State laws. So advocates can scream (truthfully) that it in no way endangers our Constitutional rights. But you can kiss your pro-firearm State gun laws goodbye.

  6. It really doesn’t matter what the UN does. There have been treaties covering all manner of nation state behaviors that everyone, including the permanent members, have simply ignored. Nothing the UN does will trump local, State, or Federal laws. Nothing. The left needs to fully embrace the 2nd Amendment, and the right needs to stop conjuring up imaginary threats to it. Unfortunately both extremes make elaborate tinfoil head gear, claiming it as a crown of authority on the matter.

  7. The UN is beyond useless, should be kicked the hell out of the US and we shouldn’t have a damn thing to do with that bureaucratic waste of time and money anymore. Let everyone else buy into that circle jerk, not us.

    • You gota remember that the UN was largely the US’s idea.

      “The name “United Nations”, coined by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt was first used in the Declaration by United Nations of 1 January 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their Governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers. ”
      http://www.un.org/en/aboutun/history/

      • The UN was largely our idea. So was it’s predecessor, the League of Nations. The LN was Woodrow Wilson’s child, but our Senate refused to sign the treaty. Now, just as with unions, the UN has outlasted its initial purpose, and needs to go.

        • Oh, and as I remember my gubmit education, the failure of the League of Nations and subsequently WWII, was blamed on us for not overtaking in UN V1.0. At least that’s what the textbook said. And we wonder why we are becoming collectively idiotic…

        • Exactly. Best of intentions, served a good purpose for a while but has become corrupt, bloated and out for its own interests.

        • The same could be said of governments in general, especially the US federal gov’t.

        • True to an extent but at least the levels of gov’t in the US is subject to vote (for better or worse) by citizens. The UN has zero input from citizens.

        • The POTUS and Supreme Court are not subject to vote by the US citizens in general, only the legislature is. The court is appointed by the POTUS, and the POTUS is put in place by the electoral college. The UN secretary general is put in place by a vote from the security council and/or the general assembly depending on conditions, so they are actually not that dissimilar to the US, if you want to get technical.

        • As an aside, Kelly, I used to be with you on the subject of unions. Then I started working for the Post Office. When management would ignore what the contract said and I would call them on it they would say “That’s not the way we do things here.”
          One of the stewards even said that if management would just follow the contract, 90% of the union members would drop their membership, but they won’t so we don’t.

    • I have to disagree, it’s best to keep those bozos where it’s easy to keep an eye on them. Bugging the phones at UNHQ would be a lot more difficult if it wasn’t in NYC.

  8. I’m pretty sure you could make a strong argument on the grounds that citizenship counts as a permit to “manufacture” firearms. on account of citizenship meaning we are allowed to do crap that is legal here.

  9. I see no need to do away with the UN or kick them out of the US. They need to be cut back to size and refocus on their originally intended core functions again. Entities like the UNHCR do commendable work, others have been corrupted and unduly try to usurp powers they shouldn’t have.

  10. “The distinction between a Conspiracy and an Agenda is how successful those carrying out the Agenda are at keeping people believing in Conspiracy theories.”
    Gw

  11. There is no way that a UN treaty can override the Second Amendment

    Yes, but treaties can define the Second Amendment, as can state and federal laws and court opinions. And treaties need not be ratified by the Congress to bind the nation. Once a treaty becomes established as International Law, American courts will follow it, ratified or not.

  12. The problem I see in this treaty is that it grants legitimacy to otherwise illegal laws regulating firearms. The status quo used to be that while the 2nd Amendment was law, there wasn’t a serious possibility of the judiciary branch ruling against gun control laws, and the possibility of recognizing the RKBA as a restriction on local government simply wasn’t gonna happen. Then Heller came out, and the Disarmament Lobby realized that if Chicago’s gun ban could fall , so could NJ’s,and so could California’s unjust regulations.Thus the recent effort in NYC to plea bargain the gun toting tourists’ cases to avoid a potential showdown in court that the city might lose.

    Throw in the Arms Trade Treaty, and all that goes away. Now NYC can claim its gun control regulations are in effect to fulfill international law. Its hokum, but in the event of a lawsuit it gives the disarmament lobby legitimacy in passing unconstitutional laws which otherwise wouldn’t stand scrutiny post Heller. In a government which is dedicated to breaking its own laws , I doubt a lower court-like the 9th circuit- is going to rule that the personal right to keep and bear arms supersedes international law.

  13. Ok I am so damned confused about it all. Needless to say it should not be allowed to pass, and in fact the US should Veto it. I am hoping if the US doesn’t Russia will. If they seriously think that this will stop wars, or prevent armed groups from working within countries, like the Congo, ok all of Africa, or anywhere else they are dumber than dirt.

  14. The lefty websites are unintentionally ridiculous. If they realy believed we’re only jousting at windmills, they’d smile with bemused superiority and walk on.

    One of the things that bothers me most about those guys is their never ending need to deceive.

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