SAF Alarmed at Absence of Civilian Arms Rights in UN Arms Trade Treaty

The controversial Arms Trade Treaty passed by the United Nations General Assembly (GA) with the United States’ support represents an alarming policy shift, and a potential threat to American gun rights, the Second Amendment Foundation said.

“The vote was not about public safety,” stated SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The United States already has the strongest regulations in the world on the international trade of conventional weapons.”

The U.S. broke with its policy requiring consensus and not only voted for the treaty but sponsored it.

Julianne Versnel, SAF’s Director of Operations, who spoke about self-defense in an NGO statement expressed disappointment.

“We have been working for 7 years on an ATT. There have been eight lengthy multi-day meetings and we still can’t get the right of civilians to self-defense acknowledged,” she observed.

On March 27, after the final text of the ATT was released, SAF sent a letter to Assistant Secretary Thomas M. Countryman expressing concern and asking for clarification regarding several provisions of the proposed treaty. Also signing the letter were the National Rifle Association, Manufacturers Advisory Group, World Forum on Shooting Activities, Defense Small Arms Advisory Council, Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute and Firearms Import/Export Roundtable. This laid out five main reservations.

Of primary concern is the fact that civilian arms appeared to be included in the treaty, yet there is no recognition of the lawful right of civilians to own, trade and use small arms for self-defense. The language used in the Scope does not exclude “firearms that are lawfully owned by civilians and are not part of international commerce.” The language was also unclear concerning international travel with firearms by hunters and sport shooters.

Additionally it was unclear whether relics and curios would fall under this treaty or whether state-owned museums would be able to transport artifacts to other countries without export licenses. There is also concern that the amendment process for the treaty, and the possibility that major provisions could be effected by a minority.

The ATT will be open for signatures on June 3. Although President Obama has indicated he will sign it, the Treaty would have to be ratified by the Senate before it becomes binding on the United States.

The Second Amendment Foundation ( is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 650,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control. In addition to the landmark McDonald v. Chicago Supreme Court Case, SAF has previously funded successful firearms-related suits against the cities of Los Angeles; New Haven, CT; New Orleans; Chicago and San Francisco on behalf of American gun owners, a lawsuit against the cities suing gun makers and numerous amicus briefs holding the Second Amendment as an individual right.