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The following email was sent to TTAG by Stephen Hsieh:

Dear Sirs,

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:

  • exports
  • imports
  • transfers
  • re-exports
  • licensing
  • 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.


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  1. I get the point, but I wish I didn’t have to wade through the bad grammar to get there. But all he really says is that a treaty might increase prices, not that it will reduce supply; and that increased prices might decrease demand. Considering the premium we civilians pay for weapons (compared to police and military buys), I am not so sure the premise is sound–we are buying everything made as fast as it is made.

    • I only saw one misuse of “it’s,” so I’d hardly call that wading through bad grammar. Have you seen some of the comments around here?

      • Oh I have I have. I guess you missed the line about how such a treaty “has yet been drafted,” the following akward sentence, and how burdens will be “shouldered onto” buyers.

        • OK, I guess. I read it three times and didn’t pick up that stuff. I guess my mind was filling in the holes for me. Call it the experience of internet boards that I only notice the most egregious examples anymore.

        • Your comments about grammar are fair enough, but punctuation is also important, such as the comma that should be between the first “have” and second “I” in your second post, not to mention the misplacement of the comma after “drafted”, which should come after the the quotation marks, not before. Me just is sayin. . .

    • Mark,

      Why are you trying to dismiss the writer’s credibility or message with an unreasonable criticism of his grammar?
      What are your thoughts about Operation Fast and Furious, and Eric Holder?
      Do you support private citizens having the right to conceal carry guns?
      What is your opinion of the ATF?

      • I did not say anything about his credibility, based on his grammar or otherwise. I said only that people will keep buying guns even if the prices go up-as they have been doing. The rest of your questions are off thread.

        • You seem to be subtly throwing around criticism where none is deserved. I asked those questions as I’ve seen anti-gunners playing deception games with truth and facts.

    • Two points I want to make:

      First, I would to thank TTAG readers and editors for allowing my voice to be heard over this issue in such a respectful and cordial manner. It speaks volumes.

      Secondly, I forgot to point out that this treaty can affect the U.S. firearms industry regardless of whether or not the United States decides to ratify/recognize it. The U.S. accounts for 40% of the total global production, which is far more than any other country. The fear that the remaining 60% could fall under the effects of an arms treaty has many businesses scrambling.

      • Thank you for your contribution. I doubt many TTAG readers support the UN Small Arms Treaty – we see it as the BS that it is.

  2. Govt., having the unlimited ability to tax, can easily pass laws with fees and taxes making the purchase or ownership of all firearms double or triple what they cost now. In many countries in the EU, purchasing a car has 100% tax or more. Various states have “sin” taxes making a box of cigarettes easily $10 if not more.

    The Obama administration could easily make things more expensive without touching the 2A. We have a tax stamp for a silencer, nothing stops them from asking for a tax stamp for any firearm and adding $200 to the cost of any firearm. Nothing stops them from adding a tariff to all weapons imported in the US. Nothing stops them from adding an additional tax on bullets, shells or black powder. Nothing stops them banning weapons from being imported or requiring one to jump hoops to get one or make it expensive. They did this with Japanese cars in the past.

    They can do a lot of things many by executive order without touching the 2A because they have an unlimited ability to tax, set fees or tariffs.

    Anything they sign later this month, will just be queued up for after he makes it into office for a 2nd term. Demographics, resdistricting, the 99% movement, stacking the votes and the list goes will insure his victory.

    Any BS he has in store, he saving up for his second term. He will be a lame duck president with absolutely nothing to loose, his real agenda will come out one executive order at a time.

    Who we vote into office this fall will be very important, I just don’t know what it takes to finally piss people enough to actually vote on a good year we only have 50% to 60% on the presidential years, and as low as 20% at the local level. The Democrates know how to get the vote out and with the help of the liberal media and liberal schools, they are more certainly voting democratic vs republican.

    • I think the route to gun control in the US is through the wallet. Lautenburg famously said he’s for taxing ammo at 5 dollars a bullet or eliminating it from store shelves altogether since only a few years is on hand.
      Taxing new guns doesn’t do much for used gun sales, they would need to get creative for that.

  3. This is a United Nations treaty regulating individual small arms. When has the UN ever been a friend of citizen ownership of guns, or any right that enhances individual liberty against state control? All you need to know about any UN arms treaty is on display in front of the UN building, with the “knotted barrel” revolver. That’s a civilian revolver that they dream of destroying, not a military weapon. Any UN treaty on small arms is going to be designed to trash our fundamental human right to self-defense.

  4. Once a treaty has been signed, it remains “ratifiable” (for lack of a better term) forever. Which means that if the tide in the Senate turns — and a swing of only a few seats could do that — and even if it’s many years from now, the Senate can approve the treaty.

    Do you guys really want this sword of Damocles hanging over our heads forever?

    • Ralph, there are any number of anti-gun laws that could be passed in the future given a change in political fortunes – and most of them wouldn’t require a Senate supermajority.

    • Hey Ralph,

      While the idea of the Senate ratifying the treaty is definitely a potential nightmare, the economic effects could come into play earlier without Congressional approval.

      Say you like shooting cheap foreign made ammo through your AK. If that foreign manufacturer’s country were to ratify the treaty, then the distribution of that ammunition falls under UN regulation.

    • Not sure that is correct, Ralph. I believe George W. Bush officially repudiated the non-ratified Kyoto Treaty (signed by Clinton), with much attendant weeping and gnashing of the teeth, rending of garments, etc., by the Democrat Propaganda Ministry.

  5. We can vote, there are old people in your area who will vote , if you would take them, and a lunch as a thanks…. if 10,000 of us did that the votes add up fast… so turn the tide in America…. but you got to get off the sofa….

  6. For all of the “armed intelligentsia” comments I have seen in posts here, I am amazed at how reactionary, misinformed, and straight up ignorant people can be.

    I don’t buy into the scare tactics and anti-UN vitriol on this one. There is no treaty. There is no boogeyman at the door ready to take away all of our guns.

    Are there threats to the industry and the 2nd Amendment? Absolutely. But seriously people, can you just take a little time and become informed … I mean beyond the I-heard-it-on-the-internet kind of stuff.

    • We know, wirecrossmind. The government is here to help. We have no reason to mistrust our rulers. How could we be so blind? Thank god you’re here to lead us.

      • Skepticism is healthy, but only when it is combined with an effort to validate said skepticism. What I read in these comments is the internet equivalent of villagers with pitchforks and torches scouring the countryside for witches.

    • I read on the internet that Obamacare might make it past the Supreme Court. As if that could ever happen.

    • Today, I read on the Internet that it is going to be warm and sunny today. Today it was very warm and sunny.

    • “There is no treaty.”

      WTF are you talking about? Are you a flat-earther?

      The UN’s website states that “[i]nsurgents, armed gang members, pirates, terrorists – they can all multiply their force through the use of unlawfully acquired firepower.” Of course, lets not forget that our founding fathers were “insurgents, armed gang members, pirates, terrorists” in the eyes of our colonial masters – the British. Show me an insurgency brewing anywhere in the world and I will show you a government that is unjust and in need of serious reform.

      • Did you notice the part about moving “towards” a treaty? The treaty does not exist. The conference is simply an exploration and not some sort of ratification session.

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