By: Bob Barr
Those wild and crazy bureaucrats on the banks of the East River are at it again. The United Nations – a bureaucracy so bloated and byzantine that it makes the United States Senate appear efficient by comparison – is poised to begin tossing legal monkey wrenches into international firearms transactions; and indirectly affecting firearms policies in the United States.
This new phase in international gun control began September 25th when the 50th country ratified the infamous Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that was adopted formally by the United Nations a year and a half ago (and signed by our own Secretary of State Kerry in September 2013). The process itself began more than a decade ago – in the summer of 2001 – when the UN began formally debating a “Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.”
Since the UN officially launched that piously-named, multi-year and costly “programme” shortly before the world was turned upside on September 11, 2001, the international anti-gun cartel led by the United Kingdom, Japan, Mexico and other “allies” of the United States, have waited patiently for this day. With the ratification by the governments of at least 50 supporting nations, the deeply anti-Second Amendment ATT now will be subject to implementing conferences and actions with very real consequences.
Those of us in this country who understand and support the concept of “the right to keep and bear arms,” might defer any concern because the Senate has not and likely will not “advise and consent” to the ratification of this thoroughly rotten document. Problem is, the mere fact that John Kerry lent his John Hancock to the ATT makes the United States a “signatory” to it, and is cause for real concern.
The problem is two-fold.
First, virtually all of the ATT-ratifying countries (a number that already has grown to 53, and which will continue to increase as more countries succumb to the siren song of “security through gun control”) engage in trade with the United States; many receive military assistance from us and purchase armaments. Others are countries in which American hunters travel for their sport. Still, other countries in this group might at some point serve as a base in which individuals or groups hostile to the United States hide, and against which we might legitimately seek to take action. Our options in all these circumstances might be severely limited if the ratifying countries comply fully with the myriad terms of the ATT.
American firearms and ammunition manufacturers could in many instances be barred from exporting to, or importing from such countries. American hunters might no longer be able to bring firearms into those countries. And, future administrations might find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to provide defensive armaments to freedom fighters with such countries.
Secondly, because John Kerry signed the treaty on behalf of the United States, according to its terms we are obligated not to “act contrary to” its terms and its referenced and underlying documents. These foundational materials include some of the most blatantly anti-Second Amendment screeds available. Those provisions include numerous detailed gun control measures, including a mandate that all civilian-owned firearms be registered with the national government, severe restrictions on who could possess firearms and what types, and many other deeply anti-freedom restrictions.
The danger is obvious. An anti-Second Amendment administration, such as the current one led by President Barack Obama, could cite such interpretation of the ATT as a pretext for quietly ordering various gun control measures to be undertaken by agencies under its control (such as the State Department and ATF). We all are painfully familiar with the Obama Administration’s penchant for taking substantive actions without benefit of, or in actual contravention to, lawful authority. In its tortured view of executive power, citing an international treaty such as the Arms trade Treaty as justification for limiting Second Amendment rights would be easy.
Notwithstanding the fact that a majority of Senators already are on record committing that they would never vote to ratify the ATT, they and their colleagues in the House of Representatives must take proactive steps to ensure that this Administration – and any future administration – be stopped from implementing any provisions of or supported by the ATT. Our congressional committees must be far more vigilant than they have in the past to monitor ATF, the State Department, and all other federal agencies to ensure they do not take any steps through regulations or other means to implement or enforce any provisions lurking in the ATT. Failure to do so runs the very real risk of surrendering many aspects of our precious Second Amendment-guaranteed rights to a cadre of faceless bureaucrats at the United Nations and in far-flung capital cities around the globe.