House approves amendment to restrict funding for Arms Trade Treaty (VIDEO)

Last Friday, Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA) introduced an amendment to H.R. 1960, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (NDAA) that would ban the federal government from spending money on the implementation of the controversial United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) for one year. 

Shortly after its introduction, the House unanimously approved the amendment by a voice vote and it was included as part of the final version of the NDAA, which cleared the House late Friday evening.

When Kelly introduced the amendment he made some brief remarks on why the House should prohibit the government from using taxpayer dollars to implement the ATT.

“Over the last year, I have been joined by over 140 bipartisan members of this body to express deep concerns with the ATT and to urge its rejection,” said Kelly, who has spearhead the effort to defeat the ATT.

“First, the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty undermines our Second Amendment rights by omitting the fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms and imposing a national ‘responsibility’ to prevent firearms ‘diversion,’ thus opening the door to new gun control measures,” Kelly said.

“Secondly, the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty undermines our sovereignty by imposing vague, readily politicized requirements on the United States and inviting United Nations-led investigations into what U.S. policy makers knew or should have known regarding arms transfers that allegedly violate the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty,” he continued.

“Ultimately, the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty will stop the good from doing good without stopping the bad from doing bad. As then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, the U.S. maintains the ‘gold standard’ of arms export controls. My amendment upholds our current policies as well as our enduring values,” Kelly concluded.

The ATT opened for national signatures on June, 3.  The Obama administration has made it clear that it plans on signing the ATT — which regulates the international trade of conventional arms, e.g. battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers and small arms and light weapons — but has yet to do so.

“We look forward to signing it as soon as the process of conforming the official translations is completed satisfactorily,” said Secretary of State John Kerry, earlier this month.

Kerry added that the comprehensive agreement is “an important contribution to efforts to stem the illicit trade in conventional weapons, which fuels conflict, empowers violent extremists, and contributes to violations of human rights.”

The Kelly amendment garnered the support of various advocacy groups, including the Arms Control Association, Oxfam America, Amnesty International USA, the American Values Network, Peace Action West and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

The Chairman of CCRKBA, Alan Gottlieb, explained why his organization was urging lawmakers to adopt the Kelly amendment and oppose the ATT.

“Global gun control fanatics want this country to help pay for a program created by a treaty our Senate won’t ratify,” Gottlieb observed. “Our national defense dollars will be much better spent on arms and equipment for our military, rather than on some Pollyanna scheme to push international firearms restrictions that could ultimately threaten Second Amendment sovereignty.”

Kelly amendment reads:

None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act or otherwise made available for fiscal year 2014 or any fiscal year thereafter for the Department of Defense may be obligated or expended to implement the Arms Trade Treaty, or to make any change to existing programs, projects, or activities as approved by Congress in furtherance of, pursuant or, or otherwise to implement the Arms Trade Treaty, unless the Arms Trade Treaty has been signed by the President, received the advice and consent of the Senate, and has been the subject of implementing legislation by the Congress.

Looking ahead, it’s pretty clear that President Obama will sign the ATT.  However, with at least 143 House representatives and 36 senators publicly opposing the ATT, singing a bipartisan concurrent resolution calling for the U.S. to discard the treaty, it will face a rocky road to ratification in the Senate (according to the Constitution, two-thirds of the Senate has to approve an international treaty before it becomes U.S. law).

With respect to the fate of the ATT internationally, it needs 50 countries to ratify it before it takes effect.  Though, if key players (Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, etc.) refuse to sign on the dotted line and actively play by the new rules and regulations, which require a lot of self-reporting and transparency with respect to dealing arms, the treaty won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on, as has duly noted in the past.

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