The following email was sent to TTAG by Stephen Hsieh:
I was wanting to respond to your articles regarding the Arms Trade Treaty. I do retail work for a major firearms dealer in the midwest. Our company also conducts a large amount of wholesale business directly with major industry leaders and importers. I wish to present an alternative view to supplement your articles on the issue . . .
Your observations are correct that such a treaty has yet been drafted and that it would be political suicide to even entertain the thought about ratifying it. Additionally you are correct that individual firearm rights are ascendant with many laws are passed to expand and protect gun ownership across the country. However, there is another less visible side of the gun control debate that I would like to shed light on. This would be the commercial aspect.
Attached, you will find a short UN commissioned report on the scope and feasibilities of a small arms regulations treaty. While no mention is made regarding the regulation of private ownership of firearms, it’s content is nonetheless disturbing. Under the section titled, “Scope of a comprehensive legally binding instrument establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms”, there is a section highlighting the activities/transactions that would be impacted by a potential treaty. They include:
- technology transfer and manufacturing
- foreign licensed production
The concern over the impact that a treaty may have on these areas is more grounded in economics than politics. Intentional or not, an arms treaty would lead to increased to regulation and tighter control over the movement of small arms and ammo from one country to another (after all the goal of any arms control treaty is to prevent the proliferation of weapons). It doesn’t take much to see how this translates into additional administrative and production costs that will in the end be shouldered onto individual gun owners.
A good example to illustrate this scenario would be military surplus weapons and ammunition such as the WASR-10 AK style rifles and Mosin Nagant M91/30 rifles that are distributed throughout the country. These guns are popular because both the guns and the ammo are inexpensive and easy to come by. If the price of these products went up to cover the additional business costs incurred by complying with an arms treaty, the practicality of dealing these items goes down with their demand.
This is only one of many worms in a very big can. Any of the above listed activities can be negatively impacted by an arms treaty one way or another. It will be interesting to see how things play out over the next few weeks. One thing’s for sure, I don’t see myself shelling out another $200 for a WASR-10 anytime soon.