Posts Tagged ‘second amendment’

Rep. Kelly Introduces Resolution to Protect Second Amendment Rights from UN Arms Trade Treaty

Monday, November 26th, 2012

In addition to the Second Amendment Protection Act (HR 3594) introduced by Rep. Joe Walsh, HR 814 sponsored by Rep. Mike Kelly and 76 other co-sponsors would prohibit federal funding to implement the UN ATT and other similar agreements if signed by President Obama. Other representatives such as Rep. Joe Barton recently voiced strong support for the bill. Both of the bills are bipartisan with co-sponsors from the Democrat and Republican party.

Original Story Via:  Kelly.House.Gov

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (PA-03) introduced a resolution today urging the president not to sign the United Nations (UN) Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which is in the final stages of negotiation, and warns the president that if he does indeed sign the ATT, it will not be binding and no federal funds will be appropriated to implement it unless it has consent in the Senate and has been the subject of implementing legislation by the Congress.

Just hours after President Obama’s reelection, the administration voted in the UN to move forward with finalizing the ATT, which was previously delayed and is now scheduled to take place during a March 2013 conference.

The bipartisan resolution addresses concerns over language included in the July 2012 ATT draft, which failed to expressly recognize the fundamental, individual right to keep and to bear arms and the individual right of personal self-defense, among other things. In doing so, the current draft threatens the Second Amendment rights of United States citizens, as well as United States sovereignty.

In addition, the ATT poses significant risks to the national security, foreign policy, and economic interests of the United States, placing free democracies and totalitarian regimes on a basis of equality and recognizing their equal right to transfer arms, while imposing onerous reporting requirements that could damage the domestic defense manufacturing base and related firms.

Seventy-six original cosponsors, including Chairmen Jim Jordan (OH-04), Mike Rogers (MI-08), Fred Upton (MI-06), Lamar Smith (TX-21), Sam Graves (MO-06), and Jeff Miller (FL-01), have joined Rep. Kelly in his effort to uphold the Second Amendment rights of Americans and maintain the sovereignty of the United States of America through this critical and timely resolution, which is supported by the National Rifle Association, Heritage Action, and the Endowment for Middle East Truth.

Rep. Kelly issued the following statement:

“There is considerable cause for alarm regarding the UN’s renewed efforts to forge an Arms Trade Treaty that could trample the constitutional rights of Americans, and could seriously compromise our national security and the security of our allies, whom we will be less able to arm and less quick to defend due to the restrictions placed on us by the ATT. My colleagues and I stand committed to fighting this threat to our sovereignty and to standing up for the U.S. Constitution, which we are all sworn to support and defend.”


On June 29, Rep. Kelly sent a letter to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlining his concerns that the ATT would compromise national security and infringe on Americans’ Second Amendment rights. The letter, which was signed by 130 Members of the House, stated, in part, that:

•    The ATT should not cover small arms, light weapons, or related material such as firearms ammunition;
•    The ATT should expressly recognize the individual right of personal self-defense, as well as the legitimacy of hunting, sports shooting, and other lawful activities pertaining to the private ownership of firearms and related materials; and
•    The ATT must not hinder the U.S. from fulfilling strategic, legal, and moral commitments to provide arms to allies such as Taiwan and Israel.

To read the full letter, click here.

To read the Washington Times editorial titled, “The U.N. is coming for your guns,” which mentions Rep. Kelly’s letter, click here.

To read the article highlighting Rep. Kelly’s letter, click here.

CLICK TO PLAY (July 25 Interview on ATT)


SAF blasts Obama support for UN Arms Trade Treaty day after election

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Original Story Via:  Human Events

By: Neil W. McCabe

The leader of America’s oldest gun rights legal foundation Nov. 7 called out President Barack Obama for his support of the United Nations Small Arms and Light Weapons Treaty the day after the election.

“It’s obvious that our warnings over the past several months have been true,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, based in Bellevue, Wash.

Less than 24 hours after winning re-election, the Obama’s administration joined with China, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, and more than 150 other governments, in supporting renewed debate on the proposed United Nations arms trade treaty, confirming the worst fears of the American gun rights community,” said the founder of SAF, which was in 1974, and which 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.

“Just days ago as he campaigned for re-election,” he csaid. ”Barack Obama told his supporters that voting is the ‘best revenge.’ I guess now we know what he was talking about. The revenge he seeks is against American gun owners and their Second Amendment rights.”

“The election was called about 11 p.m. Tuesday and by 11 a.m. this morning, we got word that the United States was supporting this resolution. We have to be more vigilant in our efforts to stop this proposed treaty,” he said.

The vote came at the U.N. General Assembly’s meeting of the First Committee on Disarmament at the world organization’s headquarters in New York City.

According to a State Department webpage devoted to the Arms Trade Treaty, the Obama administration strongly supports the treaty potential.

“The ATT should include all advanced conventional weapons, including tanks, armored combat vehicles, artillery systems, military aircraft, military helicopters, naval vessels, missiles, missile launchers, small arms and light weapons, and combat support equipment. It should also include parts, components, and/or technology to manufacture, modify, or repair the covered items,” the webpage said.

Julianne Versnel, the SAF operations director, who has been back and forth to the United Nations over this proposal, said the fight is not finished.

The measure will be considered for finalization in March, she said.

“We will continue to monitor this issue and oppose any effort to enforce a global gun control measure,” she said.

Amnesty International issued a statement Wednesday lauding passage of the resolution, saying the treaty will protect human rights, she said.

Suzanne Nossel, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said, “Today’s vote is step one toward a hugely meaningful human rights victory. We will be urging the United States and all other countries to keep today’s momentum going towards the final passage of the first arms trade treaty.”

Nossell said the 157 governments at the U.N. General Assembly’s First Committee on Disarmament in New York voting to finalize Arms Trade Treaty in March is a breakthrough.

“It’s the greatest show of support the treaty has ever received,” she said.

“Among the ‘big six; arms-exporting countries, only Russia abstained from voting,” she said. China joined France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the USA in supporting the resolution.

Gottlieb said Amnesty International does not appreciate that gun rights are enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

“The right of self-defense is a human right,” he said.

“In this country, the Second Amendment protects that right,” he said.

EDITORIAL: Gun ban back on Obama’s agenda – More flexible administration revives U.N. arms treaty

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Original Story Via: The Washington Times

That didn’t take long. Less than a day after President Obama’s re-election, the administration breathed new life into the United Nations‘ previously comatose treaty regulating guns.

Last July, the U.N. General Assembly began formal discussion of the Arms Trade Treaty, which seeks to establish “common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.” Talks on the controversial agreement were put on indefinite hiatus after the United States requested an extension to the time allotted to negotiate the agreement. Gun rights supporters blasted the treaty as it inched toward approval, and many suspected U.S. procedural maneuvers were intended to delay the treaty so it wouldn’t become a topic of discussion during the election. It appears these suspicions were correct since “indefinite” turned out to mean until hours after Mr. Obama was re-elected.

The administration line is that the treaty applies only to firearms exports and poses no threat to domestic gun owners. “We seek a treaty that contributes to international security by fighting illicit arms trafficking and proliferation, protects the sovereign right of states to conduct legitimate arms trade, and meets the concerns that we have been articulating throughout,” an administration official said. “We will not accept any treaty that infringes on the constitutional rights of our citizens to bear arms.”

It is hard to take the White House response seriously. The treaty instructs countries to “take the necessary legislative and administrative measures, to adapt, as necessary, national laws and regulations to implement the obligations of this treaty.” The agreement’s language is so broad, vague and poorly defined it could be stretched in a variety of ways that would pose a threat to the Second Amendment. Treaty backers also want to insert provisions forcing ratifying states to promote a variety of fashionable left-wing causes including “sustainable development,” even though they have nothing to do with the arms trade.

Though the treaty is supposed to be about “gun exports,” its provisions can still be applied domestically. Activist judges adjudicating cases arising under the treaty and enabling legislation could see to that. The definition of international commerce could follow the same expansive logic liberal courts have used to redefine “interstate commerce.” Anything that indirectly or incidentally affects the trade in arms would fall under its control.

A ratified treaty, with constitutional authority, could be interpreted in a way that applies to any imported weapon or round of ammunition, those made with foreign components, those containing imported materials, those that might some day be exported, and those capable of being exported. If it affects the overall arms market, it could be said to be part of “international” trade, even if the item never leaves our shores. In practice this logic would give the government free rein to regulate all weapons, foreign and domestic. With the election out of the way, the White House can move swiftly to get the treaty through the U.N. General Assembly and up to the Senate by the summer of 2013. Elections have consequences.

The Washington Times

U.S. May Block Gun Sales to Citizens Living Abroad

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Original Article Via:  Court House News


WASHINGTON (CN) – The government can prohibit sales of guns for self-defense to American citizens residing outside its borders, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. citizen Stephen Dearth lives in Canada and was unable to buy firearms in the U.S. on two occasions. Federal Form 4473 requires purchasers of firearms to provide their state of residence, preventing Dearth from legally completing the document.

Dearth and the Second Amendment Foundation, a nonprofit committed to the right to bear arms, sued Attorney General Eric

Holder for declaratory and injunctive relief in March 2009.

The District of Columbia District Court dismissed the complaint for lack of standing. However, the D.C. Circuit Court reversed the dismissal and remanded Dearth’s claims in April 2011.

U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins granted the government’s motion for summary judgment on Thursday.

Wilkins found that none of the six counts alleged by Dearth amounted to constitutional violations.

The judge stated that, “an initial point of contention is how to construe the challenged laws. Are they restrictions on possession, or are they longstanding conditions and qualifications on commercial sale?

“The court concludes they are the latter,” Wilkins wrote.

Much like the state laws that have prevented non-residents from buying firearms for more than 100 years, the federal restrictions have a similar intent, the judge found.

“The effect of the federal statute is to require a firearm purchaser to be a state resident so that he or she submits to the jurisdiction and authority of some state – any state – so that the firearms purchase can be regulated by state law,” Wilkins wrote. “Thus, the federal statutes serve a similar purpose as the longstanding state statutes governing the commercial sale of firearms.”

Dearth argued that his inability to buy a gun for self-defense while visiting his friends and relatives in the U.S. violated his Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

But Wilkins found that Dearth “…has the ability to bring his firearm from Canada with him when he visits the United States. Critically, Dearth concedes that ‘he would access [firearms] for lawful sporting purposes as well as for other purposes, including self-defense, while visiting the United States’…Thus, Dearth clearly has the ability to borrow or rent a firearm for lawful sporting purposes and then also use that firearm for self-defense. This would be a much different case if Dearth had none of those options.”

Dearth also failed to show that the gun restrictions infringe on the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment by requiring him to give up his ability to buy firearms if he chooses to travel internationally.

“As the government correctly points out, these provisions do not prevent Dearth from travelling internationally and, therefore, they do not implicate any Fifth Amendment liberty interest in international travel,” Wilkins wrote. “There is nothing to suggest that the challenged statutes present either a direct or coincidental restriction on a U.S. citizen’s ability to travel internationally.

The statutes merely require that Dearth establish residency in a state in order to purchase or acquire additional firearms for purposes other than sporting purposes. The statutes place no direct restriction on Dearth’s ability to travel within the United States or internationally.”

Wilkins found that the restrictions were rationally based. “The provisions serve the substantial government interests of protecting public safety, combating violent crime, and controlling the flow of firearms across state and international borders,” Wilkins stated.

The order concludes that the same rational basis holds true against Dearth’s Equal Protection claims.  

IAPCAR’s Phil Watson featured as leadership graduate of the week

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Original Story Via:

Phil Watson of IAPCAR was featured this week as the Leadership Institute’s Graduate of the Week.

Click here to read the article directly from Leadership Institute’s website.

Article text below

Protecting and Defending: Second Amendment Liberty

These famous words in the Bill of Rights have stirred countless emotion and action for centuries: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The right to keep and bear arms is what Leadership Institute graduate Phil Watson has devoted his time and talent toward preserving.

“You are born sovereign with rights given by God, not government. The right of self-defense is one of those rights,” Phil told the Leadership Institute. “Gun rights groups are here to protect your human and civil rights. The police can’t be everywhere at once and are technically not even bound by law to protect you, so you have to take your Second Amendment rights seriously.”

Phil is the Second Amendment Foundation’s (SAF) director of special projects, where he researches Second Amendment court litigation and news surrounding gun issues on a national and international scale.

“Keeping track of the dozens of current Second Amendment lawsuits and opposing the UN Arms Trade Treaty takes up a lot of my time,” Phil said. “Our network of member groups now extends to 23 groups in 15 different countries. Communicating with your base and your members in a timely manner is very important. I also assist in writing and editing various Second Amendment publications.”

Additionally, he’s executive director at the International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arm Rights.

“The numbers don’t lie: gun-free zones suffer from high crime rates and only create more victims,” Phil said. “People who have a problem with self-defense usually have a problem with other freedoms and rights as well, which are historically why tyrannical governments like to disarm their people. We are here to stick up for your rights and speak out against those that would force others to be helpless.”

However, Phil hasn’t always been involved in public policy. It’s been a career in the making.

Phil was raised in a “minimum-wage-working world,” where he delivered newspapers to neighbors to earn an extra dime. He also remembers doing yard work and washing dishes at a local restaurant to collect some additional money.

“After I graduated high school, I entered the military and waited awhile to start college,” Phil said. “History, economics, and politics became my favorite subjects after trying most other classes. Later, I had the pleasure of graduating from the University of Washington with a B.A. in Political Economy.”

With a degree in hand, he met some political activists who were regular patrons at the large neighborhood convenience store where he worked.

After several long talks, one of the individuals invited him to work on his campaign.

“It sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a shot. Several people highly recommended the Leadership Institute, so I took the Campaign Management School and was off and running,” Phil shared.

In April 2010, Phil came to LI’s headquarters in Arlington, Virginia to attend the week-long Campaign Management School.

Shortly after, he was asked to be the deputy campaign manager for the 2010 WA-6 congressional race. The opponent was a 17-term incumbent, Rep. Norm Dicks, and while Phil’s candidate didn’t win, Phil valued the experience he gained.

After the election, Phil fought against Proposition 1 – a local sales tax increase. “We won with some creative campaigning and tactics I picked up from LI’s Campaign Management School,” Phil said. “We were outgunned on money by 95 percent, but ended up winning. We defeated the sales tax increase.”

After the campaign, Phil came to the Leadership Institute in the spring of 2011 to intern in the Grassroots department. He’s taken 16 LI trainings from Public Speaking, Campaign Management, New Media, High-Dollar Fundraising, Television Techniques, Youth Leadership, and Conservative Career workshops and schools.

“LI is a political boot camp in many ways,” Phil shared. “I jumped in the political world and was serious about learning how to be effective as an activist. The Leadership Institute taught me how to be effective within a political organization and I still talk with a lot of the people I met there. LI is a great place to learn and connect with other people on the same path.”

After LI’s internship, Phil received a press internship in the office of Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, vice chair of the House Republican Conference and highest ranking Republican woman in Congress.

Next, he trekked across America back to his home state of Washington to influence public policy and protect the right to keep and bear arms.

Read Phil’s interview with the Russian Legal Information Agency here.

His employer—the Second Amendment Foundation—has their 2012 Gun Rights Policy Conference in Orlando, Florida in a few weeks. To learn more, go here.

“LI trainings helped give me a good foundation for the journey ahead,” Phil said.

You too can build a good foundation for your public policy career. Register for one of LI’s upcoming trainings here.

Please welcome Phil Watson as LI’s Graduate of the Week.

UN hits and misses between the illegal arms trade and the right to bear arms

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Original Story Via:  Russian Legal Information Agency

MOSCOW, August 30 – RAPSI, Ingrid Burke. The United Nations is currently hosting its second conference in as many months aimed at regulating illicit arms trafficking. July’s conference strived, albeit unsuccessfully, to reach consensus on a binding international treaty that would regulate the global arms trade as a whole. The conference currently underway aims only to review the progress made by UN member nations individually and the international community as a whole in terms of the implementation of an action plan adopted by consensus in 2001 in order to combat the illegal trade of small arms and light weapons.

Both conferences centered on documents- the first a working document that never earned its wings and the second a binding agreement. Both documents are rooted in concern over the illicit arms trade, but one reached consensus and has entered into force on national, regional, and global levels, and one provoked a heated public controversy that endured beyond the deadline for approval by consensus.

To get into the spirit of things, RAPSI has decided to compare and contrast the documents underlying and the controversies surrounding the two initiatives in an effort to better understand what caused the former to sink and the latter to swim.

The UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty

Between 2-27 July, representatives of all 193 member nations gathered at the UN headquarters in New York with the common goal of establishing: “a robust and legally binding arms trade treaty that will have a real impact on the lives of those millions of people suffering from the consequences of armed conflict, repression and armed violence,” in the words of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Negotiations deteriorated in the last few days of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) conference as competing national interests gave way to stubborn resistance.

A draft of the treaty released shortly before the conference deadline was harshly criticized both by right-to-bear-arms activists and by their human rights/disarmament counterparts. The former took issue with what they perceived to be an overly broad range of arms and activities sought to be regulated. The latter took issue with what they perceived to be an insufficiently comprehensive document that left numerous gaping loopholes.

The document included among the list of arms sought to be regulated: battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, and small arms and light weapons. This range of weapons has received criticism from both sides of the advocacy spectrum, for being both too broadly and too narrowly tailored.

The inclusion of small arms and light weapons came under fire by advocacy groups that support the right to bear arms. Speaking to this point, International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights (IAPCAR) Executive Director Philip Watson explained to RAPSI during the conference, “We are appalled they deemed it appropriate to place civilian firearms used for self-defense in a treaty with tanks, bombs, and attack helicopters. It is dangerous to include civilian self-defense weapons in such an international treaty that could curtail legitimate use or trade of small civilian weapons.  Personal security and the defense of one’s home and family are values shared across international borders, regardless of an individual’s background or nationality.”

The opposite side of the spectrum was comprised of disarmament and human rights advocacy groups who argued that the list of arms and activities covered was too narrow. Toward this end, Amnesty International [AI] noted in a press release toward the end of the conference that, “Major loopholes in the draft text include ammunition not being subject to tight decision-making controls, an array of weapons, munitions and related equipment not being covered, as well as the treaty only applying to the international trade of conventional arms instead of all international transfers including gifts and aid.”

A similarly concerned Oxfam released a statement by head of its arms control unit Anna Macdonald around the same time urging that “[t]here are more holes in this draft treaty than in a leaky bucket and these must be urgently closed if we are going to stop weapons from flowing into the world`s worst conflict zones.”

As it became clear toward the end of the conference that hope was lost, some viewed the stalemate as the fault of the US. In a widely publicized move, 51 US senators pledged to vote against ratification of the treaty if it failed to protect the constitutional right of US citizens to bear arms. As US ratification of an international treaty requires the approval of two-thirds of the senate, these numbers were sufficient to ensure against US ratification of the bill.

The pledge came in the form of a letter addressed to the Obama administration. A press release issued shortly thereafter by Republican Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi quoted a portion of the letter that urged the Obama administration to break the conference’s required consensus if doing so was necessary to protect the right of US citizens to bear arms. The relevant passage stated:  “As the treaty process continues, we strongly encourage your administration not only to uphold our country’s constitutional protections of civilian firearms ownership, but to ensure – if necessary, by breaking consensus at the July conference – that the treaty will explicitly recognize the legitimacy of lawful activities associated with firearms, including but not limited to the right of self-defense. As members of the United States Senate, we will oppose the ratification of any Arms Trade Treaty that falls short of this standard.”

Later that day, the US State Department (USDOS) issued a statement acknowledging both the failure of the conference to produce tangible results and the refusal of the US to move to accept the treaty in its ultimate form. USDOS spokesperson Victoria Nuland stated, “we do not support a vote in the UNGA on the current text. The illicit trafficking of conventional arms is an important national security concern for the United States. While we sought to conclude this month’s negotiations with a Treaty, more time is a reasonable request for such a complex and critical issue. The current text reflects considerable positive progress, but it needs further review and refinement.”

Some US-based right-to-bear-arms advocacy groups attributed the stalemate to their own grassroots efforts. The most well-known such group, the National Rifle Association (NRA) took personal credit for the failure of the conference to produce results, stating on its website Friday: “The Conference on the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty has broken down and will not report a draft treaty to the member nations… This is a big victory for American gun owners, and the NRA is being widely credited for killing the [conference.]”

The conference’s launch was drenched with optimism. Prior to the start of negotiations, many lauded the potential of the conference to make the world a safer place through the regulation of the international arms trade. Ban expressed optimism in the face of the daunting task that lay ahead, noting, “It is ambitious, but I believe it is achievable.” During his opening statement, Ban urged the necessity of the conference’s success: “Every day, we at the United Nations see the human toll of an absence of regulations or lax controls on the arms trade.  We see it in the suffering of civilian populations trapped by armed conflict or pervasive crime.  We see it in the killing and wounding of civilians — including children, the most vulnerable of all.  We see it in the massive displacement of people within and across borders.  We see it through grave violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law.”

As negotiations fizzled, he lamented, “The Conference’s inability to conclude its work on this much-awaited ATT, despite years of effort of Member States and civil society from many countries, is a setback.”
The Second UN Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects

The conference currently underway has been scheduled to run from 27 August to 7 September. A list of member nations in attendance has not yet been released, but a UN official speaking to RAPSI Thursday confirmed that at least 75-80% of UN states are represented.

The document at issue is the politically binding “Programme of action to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects,” (POA) which was adopted by consensus in 2001.

From the start, the UN has made clear its intention to refrain during the course of the conference from restricting firearm ownership rights. A UN press statement explained, “The Review Conference only reviews progress made in the implementation of the Programme of Action which was adopted in 2001 to combat the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons… It is not about banning firearms or any other type of small arms or prohibiting people from owning legal weapons.”

The release emphasized the conference’s disinterest in imposing lofty regulations, stating: “Each sovereign State determines its own laws and regulations for the manufacture, sale and possession of firearms by its citizens. The United Nations has no jurisdiction over such matters.”

After denying rumors that the conference would essentially serve as a component part of a broader UN conspiracy—in connection with the Arms Trade Treaty—to prohibit civilian gun ownership, the release reiterated the recent failure of the ATT to come into existence: “The Arms Trade Treaty does not yet exist. It was discussed throughout July 2012 and focused on setting common standards for how States could regulate the international trade of all types of conventional arms. No consensus was achieved on a draft Treaty text. “

This conspiracy theory denial points to a critical difference between the conferences and the documents at their core. The ATT sought to regulate the international trade of all types of conventional arms. The POA sought to eliminate the illicit trade of small arms. The goals of the former were extraordinarily lofty; those of the latter, quite narrow.

The POA was born the successful outcome of a conference similar to that which failed to produce the ATT. UN members came together with the goal of combatting, preventing, and eradicating the small arms trade in July 2001, and reached a consensus on how to do so: by targeted, limited means.

Regardless of where one stands on the right to bear arms, it is worth noting the different reactions elicited from the two texts with similar goals but diametrically opposed scopes.

It should be noted that the POA has been criticized by its own implementation support system for lacking key mechanisms to ensure its implementation. It is possible that the inclusion of such mechanisms would have created obstacles to its approval similar to those faced by the ATT.

The U.N. Arms Trade Treaty and the Second Amendment

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Original Story Via:

By Ted R. Bromund, Ph.D.

For much of the past two weeks, I’ve been attending the U.N.’s Arms Trade Treaty conference in New York and blogging on the craziness of Turtle Bay. A number of comments on my blogs—and many external commentators—have raised the question of whether the ATT is, pure and simple, a “gun grab” treaty.

Let’s start with three basic points:

  1. No external power, and certainly not the U.N., can disarm U.S. citizens or deprive us of our Second Amendment rights by force. If there is a Second Amendment problem, it comes from the actions of U.S. authorities.
  2. The U.N. and many of its member states are hostile to the private ownership of firearms.
  3. The U.S. is exceptional: It is one of the few nations that has a constitutional provision akin to the Second Amendment.

Thus, the default U.N. tendency—partly out of malevolence, partly out of ignorance—is to act in ways contrary to the Second Amendment, and the fundamental job of the U.S. at the U.N. is to try to stop bad things from happening. The alternative of completely quitting the entire U.N. is appealing but unwise, because the U.N. would keep doing things that would affect the U.S. even if we were not in it.

The U.N. is aware of the political dangers of appearing to stomp openly on the Second Amendment. It uses code words; it runs closed meetings—a veteran of the process tells me that meetings were normally open until the National Rifle Association began showing up at them—and, above all, it plays a long game. A big problem with talking about the ATT as a “gun grab” treaty is that the U.N. works by taking slices: when it comes to the U.N., being outraged by one development is no substitute for focusing on how the slices pile up over time.

I don’t give much too much credit to the U.S. for stating as a red line that it will uphold the Second Amendment, because that raises the question of what relevant activities are (as the State Department puts it in its red line) “permitted by law or protected by the U.S. Constitution.” Simply backing the Second Amendment is good, but it is better to spell out—as Senator Jerry Moran (R–KS) did at Heritage recently—exactly what rights and activities you believe the Second Amendment protects. Only in that way does a promise to uphold the Second Amendment carry the full weight that it deserves.

So what are the domestic concerns posed by the ATT? Four are important.

  1. Transfer requirements. First, there are specific textual requirements. The most recent draft text states, for example, that the ATT will apply to “all international transfers of conventional arms” but then goes on to define “international transfers” as “the transfer of title or control over the conventional arms.”

Does this mean that any transfers, including domestic ones, count as international and are thus subject to the treaty’s provisions? There are similar concerns related to the potential reporting requirements of the treaty and thus to the possible creation of a U.N.-based gun registry. If it is to be true to its published red lines, the U.S. cannot accept any of this.

  1. International business. Second, most major U.S. arms manufacturers have an international financing, insurance, and parts and components chain. The ATT could become a means for foreign countries to pressure U.S. firms to exit the market, reducing the ability of Americans to make effective use of their firearms rights.
  2. Further review of the rules. This is not the end of the process. The ATT will be elaborated at review conferences, where the U.S. goal is to develop “best practices” for its implementation. Similarly, if President Obama were to sign the ATT but not submit it to the Senate for ratification, the U.S. would hold itself obligated to “refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purpose” of the ATT.
  3. Constitutional interpretation. Finally, the ATT is part of a process that will inspire judges and legal theorists who believe that the Constitution needs to be reinterpreted in light of transnational norms. This is the most important problem of all, though it is broader than the ATT.

Just because the ATT is not a “gun grab” treaty does not mean it raises no domestic concerns: “Gun grabs” are less plausible than “death by a thousand cuts.” On the other hand, the ATT should raise concerns beyond the Second Amendment. Representative Mike Kelly (R–PA) recently led 130 of his colleagues in expressing a range of concerns about the ATT to the Administration.

It makes sense to balance legitimate expressions of concern for the Second Amendment with concerns on economic, foreign policy, and national security grounds. There’s enough to dislike about the ATT to keep everyone busy.

UN Arms Trade Treaty – Targeting U.S. Guns as a Cure-All for Global Violence?

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Original Story VIA:  AMMO LAND

New York, NY –-( In a matter of days, officials and activists will descend upon the U.N. in NYC to create a finished version of an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT).

The stated goal of an ATT has always been to reduce weapons-related violence by controlling the global trade in arms.

The Treaty will never accomplish that laudable goal. It will succeed only in strengthening the power of thieves and tyrants.

Proponents of the ATT will likely accept any treaty at all —weak or strong— in order to have something for President Obama to sign. Obama’s signature is their goal, and they will beg, intimidate and lie shamelessly in order to set to paper an ATT prior to his departure from office, and obtain that essential scrawl.

As it now stands, in order for an ATT to be accepted, there is a requirement for unanimous agreement for the Treaty’s provisions, which was the only way to get States to agree to enter into negotiations. Therefore, the primary goal of the weapons-prohibitionists is to change the meaning of the word “consensus.”

A February 2012 ControlArms briefing paper urged participating States to “Define consensus in line with most common U.N. practice in a way that does not give every country veto power, but rather only requires ‘wide agreement’ on the final treaty text.”

Don’t Forget the Ammo
But since they may not be able to change the meaning at this late date, the weapons-prohibitionists have kept up a barrage of propaganda intended to get their demands heard and enacted. For example, they have been attempting to get ammunition covered by the Treaty in order to eliminate the crucial component of small arms.

  • In 2011, Hilde Wallacher an anti-gun researcher, whose focus is on the international arms trade, complained: “attempting to exclude any type of small arms ammunition will cause significant loopholes to the treaty, and leave it significantly weakened in its ability to prevent arms transfers that risks contributing to human rights violations or other humanitarian problems.”
  • A May 2012 Oxfam paper stated the obvious: “Guns are useless without bullets….”
  • And a UNIDIR (United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research) paper commented that “while some states may have legitimate concerns about including ammunition in an ATT, ultimately there is no compelling reason for its exclusion.”

However, there is no point of including ammunition in an ATT, since about 50% of the world’s countries produce arms and ammunition, and can supply themselves regardless of any global restrictions.

What such an inclusion of ammunition into the treaty will do is mandate laws for the use of special markers known as “taggants.”  These taggants are added to the round’s powder, and they are used to identify the place of manufacture, just like a serial number. The use of such taggants will increase the price of ammunition, and will increase the difficulty of lawful acquisition of ammunition and components by civilians. But an even greater issue with these are the danger of creating ammunition with both too much or too little powder, as the taggants will change the powder weight and volume density, thus greatly affecting the quality of the ammunition and its accuracy. And this leads to possibilities of all kinds of personal injuries or even deaths—to the shooter and innocent bystanders if the barrel should blow up because the pressure of a round is higher than a firearm can withstand, and to the intended target (e.g. rapist or other violent perpetrator) by impairing the accuracy of the firearm, and where that bullet will end up.

Guns Impeding Economic Development
Lately, we’ve been hearing of a push to incorporate the concept of “development” into the Treaty. For example, a UNIDIR paper stated: “An ATT with strong criteria will help establish the necessary security conditions for economic and social development to flourish, while helping to stem the flow of arms that has prevented such progress in the past.”

This recent “concern—impeded development by the mere presence of firearms— is an indication of the degree of frustration felt by proponents of a strong Treaty. Since they are unable to control tyrants directly, they need to blame weapons for the lack of social and economic development seen in many countries. Yet despite years of futile attempts to control weapons and weapons-related violence, they have failed. So they changed strategy to push for a global, legally binding treaty that —they hope— will finally lead to some relief from the ills of the world.

What they will discover, instead, is that a treaty attempting to control weapons will never control tyrants or violence, or lead to productive human development.

However, this factoid —that the presence of arms impedes development— was put to rest in a paper published in a 2005 issue of Engage, by David B. Kopel, Paul Gallant & Joanne D. Eisen, entitled “Does the Right to Arms Impede or Promote Economic Development?”

The paper’s authors show how and why a corrupt dictatorial government is a much better explanation for the failure of development than the presence of weapons:

At the simplest level, there is an obvious connection between SALW and underdevelopment: SALW are among the weapons used in war. Although wartime can be a period of economic development in countries which are producing goods for the war…it is rare for countries where combat is taking place to advance economically during the fighting….Blaming SALW for development failure serves several political purposes.

The rhetoric attempts to enlist the development community in the arms prohibition movement, and even to divert development funds into arms confiscation projects….We suggest instead that corrupt and dictatorial government is a better explanation of underdevelopment….The 2004 annual report of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) highlights the manmade tragedy of underdevelopment: “Chronic hunger plagues 852 million people worldwide…Hunger and malnutrition cause tremendous human suffering, kill more than five million children every year, and cost developing countries billions of dollars in lost productivity and national income”….The governments which keep their victim populations hungry and diseased are the true obstacles to development.

Empowering victim populations is an essential precondition to development, and disarming victim populations, leaving them helpless against tyrants, simply makes things worse.

Doomed To Fail, Just Not In The USA
It should be obvious by now that an ATT is doomed to fail, because the only States which will abide by its terms are those States which are law-abiding in the first place. Those States governed by dictators and human rights abusers may sign onto an Arms Trade Treaty, but are not likely to obey its terms, placing the U.S. in a much more vulnerable position than before the Treaty was enacted.

Ted Bromund, Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, and an expert on ATT affairs, summed it up when he cautioned in his June 4, 2012 issue brief, “The Risks the Arms Trade Treaty Poses to the Sovereignty of the United States”:

All treaties impose limits on U.S. freedom of action….But the ATT will effectively bind only the democracies that accept it. The failure of other states to live up to their commitments under the ATT will not cause its restrictions on the U.S. to lapse. In a world of states that do not respect human rights, a universal treaty based on the vague and wide-ranging human rights criteria that the ATT will seek to apply to arms transfers will always apply with more force to the law-abiding [e.g. the U.S.] than it does to the lawless. It will always be used by the naïve and the evil to apply the powerful weapon of shame against those with a deeply ingrained respect for the rule of law.

About the authors:
Dr. Paul Gallant and Dr. Joanne D. Eisen practice optometry and dentistry, respectively, on Long Island, NY, and have collaborated on firearm politics for the past 20 years. They have also collaborated with David B. Kopel since 2000, and are Senior Fellows at the Independence Institute, where Kopel is Research Director. Most recently, Gallant and Eisen have also written with Alan J. Chwick. Sherry Gallant has been instrumental in the editing of virtually all of the authors’ writings, and is immensely knowledgeable in the area of firearm politics; she actively co-authored this article. Almost all of the co-authored writings of Gallant, Eisen, Kopel and Chwick can be found at, which contains more detailed information about their biographies and writing, and contains hyperlinks to many of their articles. Their recent series focusing on the Arms Trade Treaty can be found primarily at . Respective E-Mail addresses are:,,,


Don’t Blame 2nd Amendement for Mexico Gun Violence

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Original Story VIA: Opposing Views

Submitted by National Shooting Sports Foundation on Apr 9, 2012

During his recent visit to the White House, Mexico President Felipe Calderon renewed his call for a U.S. assault weapons ban as a

During his recent visit to the White House, Mexico President Felipe Calderon renewed his call for a U.S. assault weapons ban as a solution to the drug cartel-caused violence that plagues his country. He also claimed, according to columnist Bill Press, that violence levels are directly related to the number of guns in circulation. Both of these assertions are demonstrably false.

Click here to see our gallery of the most popular guns in America.

Calderon’s pleading for an assault weapons ban (AWB) ignores what multiple studies have shown: that the AWB, which existed from 1994 to 2004, was not an effective crime-fighting tool, largely because they were never used in crime in the first place. Also, since the ban expired, Americans have purchased millions of modern sporting rifles — rifles based on the AR platform whose ownership was restricted by the AWB — yet at the same time violent crime has continued to decline in the United States to its lowest level in decades, demonstrating there is no correlation between the number of guns in circulation and the level of violence.

Let’s take a look at a few other points raised in Press’s column:

“We did a count, said Calderon, and discovered 8,000 American gun shops along the border with Mexico.” This is only relevant if you incorrectly believe federally licensed firearms retailers are somehow responsible for guns going to Mexico. They are not, of course. This is really like saying there are “too many” Ford dealers in a state where there are X number of DWI arrests in which the vehicle driven was a Ford. This also ignores the fact that firearms are only transferred by a firearms retailer after a background check has been performed on the buyer.

“Calderon claimed that in Washington, D.C., the rate of homicides per hundred thousand inhabitants is ‘higher by 10 — more than 10 or 20 than the largest number in any of the big cities in Mexico.’” Even if you assume this statistic is true (I haven’t checked), it is despite the fact that Washington, D.C., has the most stringent gun-control laws in the United States. It’s time to admit it that gun control is a failed social experiment.

“It’s almost as if, like global warming, the issue of gun control has disappeared from public view.” Perhaps that is because support for gun-control laws is at a record low in the U.S., according to Gallup’s annual Crime Poll. The same poll shows that most Americans do not support banning so-called “assault weapons” (even using this demonizing misnomer for modern sporting rifles), the very ban President Calderon and Bill Press seek to reinstate.

The real truth about Mexico and guns has been discussed many times on this blog, but in light of new press coverage of Calderon’s remarks, it bears repeating.

The independent research group STRATFOR — a publication Bill Press cites in his column — has corroborated what NSSF has been saying for some time about firearms recovered from drug cartels in Mexico: that it is erroneous and grossly misleading to say that the majority of firearms recovered in Mexico came from the United States.

Only 12 percent of the firearms misused in Mexico were originally sold at retail in the United States. The proof can be found in the U.S. government statistics in a report released by the independent research group STRATFOR and that the pie chart clearly illustrates:

Also, according to ATF, firearms recovered in Mexico and successfully traced as coming from the U.S. were originally lawfully sold in the United States an average of 15 years before they were seized and traced in Mexico. So that means they were sold long before the “assault weapon ban” sunset in 2004. Good luck trying to find these facts reported anywhere in the mainstream media.

An editorial published in the Miami Herald taking up Calderon’s argument says that bazookas and automatic weapons are purchased in large quantities at U.S. firearms retailers and then trafficked to Mexico. This is ridiculous and patently false. It has been widely documented by such publications as the L.A. Times, Washington Post and CBS News, that the drug cartels are acquiring firearms and serious weapons like grenades from Central America and black market sources. Also, over 150,000 Mexican soldiers have defected to go work for the cartels, clearly taking their U.S. made firearms with them.

Our industry abhors the criminal misuse of firearms, whether on the streets of Miami or Juarez, Mexico. That is why the public should know America’s firearms industry cooperates with law enforcement to prevent the illegal purchase of firearms, most recently working with ATF along the border on a program called Don’t Lie for the Other Guy that warns the public about the serious penalties for straw purchasing.

We can all agree that there are serious crime problems in Mexico, and notwithstanding his factual misstatements, we do applaud Mexican President Calderon’s courage for cracking down on the drug cartels and rampant corruption in his country, that has even reach inside his inner circle. However, laying the blame for Mexico’s crime at the feet of the U.S. firearms industry is more an act of frustration than a crime-fighting strategy, and, as we’ve said before, sacrificing the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans as a means of addressing this issue is neither an option nor a solution.