In another triumph of
politics hope over experience for the Obama administration, Secretary of State John Kerry signed the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty in New York today. The treaty’s given next to zero chance of ratification in the Senate and the reaction to the Administration’s kabuki nod toward more gun control has been pretty much as you’d expect: “’This treaty is already dead in the water in the Senate, and they know it,’ said Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services. ‘The Administration is wasting precious time trying to sign away our laws to the global community and unelected U.N. bureaucrats.’” . . .
In a letter he left in a flaming bag on the White House steps, Senator Bob Corker, ranking member of the Senate foreign relations committee, sent a Constitutional shot across the president’s bow, warning him against trying to enact any of the treaty’s provisions via executive fiat:
As you know, Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution requires the United States Senate to provide its advice and consent before a treaty becomes binding under United States law. The Senate has not yet provided its advice and consent, and may not provide such consent. As a result, the Executive Branch is not authorized to take any steps to implement the treaty.
Moreover, even after the Senate provides its advice and consent, certain treaties require changes to United States law in the form of legislation passed by both the House and Senate. The ATT is such a treaty. Various provisions of the ATT, including but not limited to those related to the regulation of imports and trade in conventional arms, require such implementing legislation and relate to matters exclusively reserved to Congress under our Constitution.
Because of the concerns discussed above, as well as the fundamental issues the ATT raises with respect to the individual rights protected by the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution, as the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, it is my view that you may not take any executive action to implement this treaty, provisionally or otherwise, unless and until: (1) the United States Senate has provided its constitutionally required advice and consent to its ratification; and (2) the Congress has passed any and all required legislation to bring this treaty into effect under United States domestic law.
Pro-gun forces in the Senate should welcome this opportunity. With the 2014 mid-terms a little more than a year away, a roll-call vote – forcing “moderate” and swing-state Dems and squish GOPers to go on the record on internationally-mandated civilian disarmament – could only help the pro-2A cause and deal the Administration another very public gun control defeat. What’s not to like?