George Will once said, “Sensible politics begins with epistemological modesty about what one can know about a complicated society.” The same can be said for looming global gun legislation. That is, until pen meets paper and the specifics are laid out, there’s only so much one can know about the proposed – but yet to be completed – United Nations gun treaty, commonly referred to as the “Small Arms Treaty.” So, for the sake of both clarity and concision here are the known knowns along with the known unknowns with respect to the U.N.’s “Small Arms Treaty.”
The United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), a committee established in 1998, is dedicated to the promotion of (1) Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, (2) strengthening of the disarmament regime in respect to other weapons of mass destruction and chemical and biological weapons, and (3) disarmament efforts in the area of conventional weapons, especially landmines and small arms, which are the weapons of choice in the contemporary conflicts.
The UNODA has been conducting ongoing talks with officials, experts, and industry representatives about a worldwide gun treaty. Reports from a discussion last month in New York indicate that the following topics were discussed at length and considered as potential provisions for the finished treaty:
– The creation of a new U.N. agency dedicated to the specific task of regulating the international sale of firearms. This agency would be known as the “Implementation Support Unit.”
– The ISU would require every country to submit reports detailing “all activities undertaken in order to accomplish the implementation of this Treaty, including… domestic laws, regulations and administrative measures” (this language was culled from an early draft of the treaty by FoxNews.com).
– A mandate for each country to have its own government body dedicated to the task of tracking firearms – “Parties shall take all necessary measures to control brokering activities taking place within its territories… to prevent the diversion of exported arms into the illicit market or to unintended end users” (this language was culled from an early draft of the treaty by Fox News).
– The creation of a “victims of gun violence” compensation fund. The compensation fund would be sustained by compulsory (or voluntary, this critical detail not yet defined) donations from firearms manufacturers and the countries that export firearms.
– A requirement that would force firearm manufactures to engrave sequential tracings on all bullets manufactured (there are over 3 billion bullets made each year in the U.S.).
These meetings have been conducted under the auspices of Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration.
If the U.N. ratifies the treaty, it still needs to pass through the U.S. Senate by a two-thirds majority for the U.S. to officially adopt it.
According to the latest reports, 57 senators have signed a letter circulated by Republican Senator Jerry Moran stating that they would vote against the treaty ratified by the U.N. if it, among other things, infringed on the rights of responsible gun owners. The letter states:
First and foremost, the Arms Trade Treaty must not in any way regulate the domestic manufacture, possession or sales of firearms of ammunition. Firearms possession is an individual right guaranteed by the Second Amendment and that cannot be subordinated, directly or indirectly by any international treaty. We encouraged that your administration is working to ensure that signatory countries will maintain the exclusive authority to regulate arms within their borders. That must continue to be non-negotiable. We also oppose any inclusion of small arms, light weapons, ammunition or related materials that would make the Treaty overly broad and virtually unenforceable. Finally, the establishment of any sort of international gun registry that could impede upon the privacy rights of the law-abiding gun owners is a non-starter.
Julianne Versnel, director of operations for the Second Amendment foundation, told reporters, “Just about everybody is pushing for more. She added, “It’s Europe, it’s Africa, it’s the Caribbean, it’s South America. Mexico has been at the forefront.”
Comments like this one raise questions as to what else was discussed. What other regulations and restrictions are on the table? To what degree is the international community looking to limit the rights of responsible gun owners in the U.S.?
Tom Mason who attended the U.N. conference as a representative from the World Forum on the Future of Sports shooting told reporters at FoxNews.com, “No, there are no black helicopters. There is no secret treaty that Hillary Clinton has signed. But on the other hand, the treaty is a significant threat to gun owners. I think the biggest threat may be the body that would administer the treaty,” referring to the ISU.
What would the exact powers of the ISU be? How much influence would it have over sovereign nations? Who would enforce its word, recommendations, sanctions, etc?
According to the Chief of the Conventional Arms Branch for the UNODA, Daniel Prins, nothing is set in stone and “All issues remain on the table.”
Although the known issues have been discussed in this article, what other issues are “on the table” with regards to this global legislation?
An individual by the name of Colin Goddard from the anti-gun violence organization, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence was less fretful about the preliminary provisions discussed at the conference and the implications those restrictions could have on gun manufactures and responsible gun owners. He told FoxNews.com, “People within the U.S. should not be worried about it unless they sell arms internationally, the whole treaty is to prevent countries from selling guns to other countries that have gross violations of human rights.”
Should one really worry about this legislation? Is it much ado about nothing?
Goddard added, “They are just trying to establish a regulatory board… Everyone’s worried about another big bureaucracy, and I can understand that. But the committee is trying to keep it small and lean.”
Assuming for a moment that this treaty establishes just another regulatory body, i.e. the ISU, would the acts and oversight of this new body accord with the U.S. Constitution? That is to say, would it impede, infringe, and/or affect one’s constitutional right to bear arms?
Guns.com will continue to keep you updated as more information is released concerning the U.N.’s “Small Arms Treaty.”