COMMENTARY: NRA Supports Senate Opponents to UN Treaty That Opponents Say Would Take Away Civilian Guns

By David M. Kinchen
As a member of both the Bay Gun Club in Port Lavaca, TX, and the National Rifle Association (NRA) I'm happy to say that the NRA is standing firm with U.S. Senate opponents to what some believe is an  attempt by the United Nations to take away civilian ownership of firearms, which to me would be a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

(See below for snopes.com verdict on this issue0>

From the NRA press release (Link: http://www.nraila.org/Legislation/Read.aspx?ID=7004:)

For nearly 20 years, the NRA has worked tirelessly to oppose any United Nations effort to undermine the constitutional rights of law-abiding American gun owners.  The latest attempt by the U.N. and global gun banners to eliminate our Second Amendment freedoms is to include civilian arms in the current Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which will be finalized next year.


In order for any treaty to take effect, however, it must be ratified by two-thirds of the U.S. Senate.   To ensure that any ATT that includes civilian arms is dead on arrival in the Senate, the NRA has been working to get as many U.S. Senators as possible to publicly oppose any ATT that includes restrictions on civilian arms.


As of this morning [July 22], 51 members-- a majority--of the U.S. Senate have signed letters to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton saying they will oppose any ATT that includes civilian firearms ownership.  These strongly worded letters caution the President and Secretary of State to uphold the Constitution of the United States


 As Senator Jerry Moran's letter warns, “(A)s the treaty process continues, we strongly encourage your administration to uphold our constitutional protections of civilian firearms ownership.  These freedoms are non-negotiable, and we will oppose ratification of an Arms Trade Treaty presented to the Senate that in any way restricts the rights of law-abiding U.S. citizens to manufacture, assemble, possess, transfer or purchase firearms, ammunition and related items.”


Thanking the NRA for our long-standing work on this issue, Senator Moran remarked, "I appreciate the NRA's partnership on this important effort to defend the rights of American gun owners. I want to thank them for their active support in sending a strong message to the Obama Administration that our firearm freedoms are not negotiable."


As we have for nearly two decades, the NRA will continue to fight against any U.N. treaty that undermines the constitutional rights of American gun owners.  These letters send a clear message to the international bureaucrats who want to eliminate our fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms.   Clearly, a U.N. ATT that includes civilian arms within its scope is not supported by the American people or their elected U.S. Senators.  We are grateful to Senator Moran, Senator Jon Tester, and all members of the Senate who have chosen to stand on the side of America's 80 million gun owners in opposition to those who want to eliminate our freedoms.  And thank you as well to those NRA members who contacted their Senators and encouraged them to support this critical effort.


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As an opponent of many of the actions of the UN, I checked this subject on snopes.com, and found the claim that a treaty had already been signed was FALSE. The snopes site noted :

Origins:   Although the United Nations has been studying the feasibility of effecting an Arms Trade Treaty, the above-referenced piece of scarelore about the United States' having already entered into a such a treaty — one which supposedly provides a "legal way around the 2nd Amendment" and will result in a "complete ban on all weapons for US citizens" — is erroneous in all its particulars. 
  • U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has not signed, nor has the U.S. Congress ratified, a United Nations small arms treaty. In fact, such a treaty hasn't even been draftedyet — it's merely a concept which is currently in the discussion phase.
  •  

  • The putative United Nations arms treaty referenced in the Reuters article linked at the end of the example reproduced above has nothing to do with restricting the sale or ownership of guns within the United States. The aim of a potentialU.N. arms treaty is to combat the illicit international trade of small arms by "tightening regulation of, and setting international standards for, the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons" in order to "close gaps in existing regional and national arms export control systems that allow weapons to pass onto the illicit market." Even if such a treaty came to pass, U.S. rights and laws regarding the sale and ownership of small arms would still apply within the United States.
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  • The President of the United States cannot enact a "complete ban on all weapons for US citizens through the signing of international treaties with foreign nations." The right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States, and in the 1957 case Reid v. Covert, the U.S. Supreme Court established that the Constitution supersedes international treaties ratified by theU.S. Senate. (Furthermore, theU.S. Congress cannot be "bypassed" in any such treaty process, as all treaties must be ratified by a 2/3 vote of the Senate.)
There is no "legal way around the 2nd Amendment" other than a further amendment to the Constitution that repeals or alters it, or a Supreme Court decision that radically reinterprets how the 2nd Amendment is to be applied. 
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