Gun rights group fears 'possible' Obama executive action on U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

Article updated on Thursday with further comment from Allen Youngman.

A United Nations treaty meant to regulate the international flow of firearms and military equipment goes into effect Christmas eve and a group of gun rights advocates in the United States wants nothing to do with it.

The U.N. Arms Trade Treaty puts the onus of gun trade on governments to take human rights abusers out of the genocide game by curbing their participation in the estimated $55-billion-a-year global weapons trade industry, groups like Amnesty International argue.

The United States signed the treaty last year, but has yet to ratify the move. Secretary of State John Kerry called it a significant step in keeping weapons out of the hands of terrorists. Some 125 countries have signed the treaty, but only 55 have ratified.

Gun rights groups are up in arms over a “possible” executive order by President Obama to circumvent congressional ratification and implement the treaty in the U.S. on his own, though there has been no indication from the Obama Administration that he would do so. The White House declined to comment on the matter.

This speculation is fueled by recent executive action the president took on providing amnesty to up to 5 million immigrants without Congressional authorization, said Alan Gottlieb, Second Amendment Foundation executive vice president.

The SAF launched a petition drive and media campaign Monday, vowing to file a lawsuit against the president should he choose executive action on the U.N. treaty.

If he has forgotten there are three branches of government, we intend to refresh his memory,” Gottlieb said. 

In September, the Second Amendment Foundation invited representatives from the Defense Small Arms Advisory Council to its annual gun rights convention. Allen Youngman, executive director of the council told the treaty could make it more difficult for manufacturers of sporting arms to export to the U.S.

Youngman also said he didn’t think the treaty would likely be ratified because the U.S. is already in compliance with the treaty in terms of carefully scrutinizing export license applications, which is the key goal of the agreement. 

“Part of the reason for making that argument, of course, was to evade any congressional restrictions on spending funds to implement the ATT but mostly because it’s true,” Youngman told Wednesday. “Not sure what actions he would want to take to further comply that he didn’t take earlier, particularly when the democrats held the Senate.”  

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