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Response to Article on U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

UN Flag LogoOnce again, I got an e-mail forward that I couldn't help but respond to. This one simply copy-and-pasted an article from Conservative Daily, RE: Election Is Over And The U.N. No Longer Quiet - correction. For those interested, my response is below. I've edited the links a bit to make them more blog friendly (i.e. giving descriptions instead of just the URL).

To give a flavor of the article, here are the two opening paragraphs.

Obama is back in business with the U.N. as they work on implementing the Small Arms Treaty that will eliminate our Second Amendment rights.

The U.N. laid low until after the presidential election because any news about Obama supporting an international gun treaty would have hurt his re-election chances. So, just as he tried to sweep Benghazi under the rug, and just like he asked contractors to ignore the WARN Act and hold off on giving layoff notices until after November 6th, he supposedly pressured United Nations committee members to keep quiet about the Small Arms Treaty until voting was over.

The article went on to discuss all of the dangers of the treaty, and how horrible Obama and the U.N. are. Here's one more paragraph as an example of the language used.

When Obama took office, he reversed the policy of the United States and began treaty negotiations with the U.N. Now that he doesn't have to worry about re-election, he is going to ram through his agenda. Taking away the rights of American gun owners and weakening America is part of that agenda. Governments will become more powerful and well armed, and citizens will see their right to own firearms disappear. It is Barack Obama's dream; the dream of a large state to take care of weakened masses

This article's a little over the top (well, more than a little after skimming through it again). Whether or not you agree with Obama's policies, I think everybody but the conspiracy nuts can agree that his intentions are good. He doesn't want to destroy America or hurt our citizens. He just has policy ideas that conservatives don't think will reach the goals he wants (for example, that the Affordable Care Act might not lower health care costs like he would like), or that conservatives don't necessarily agree with (e.g. that it's the government's responsibility to provide a strong social safety net for the less fortunate). But to claim that "weakening America is part of that [Obama's] agenda" or that "It is Barack Obama's dream; the dream of a large state to take care of weakened masses" is ludicrous.

Second, I couldn't find any mention of a U.N. Small Arms Treaty except on far right websites with articles similar to this one. I could only find an Arms Trade Treaty. That may seem like a small point, but it's indicative of sloppy research. It makes you wonder how well informed their opinions are when they can't even get the name of the treaty right. And seeing as how all the mentions I could find of a U.N. Small Arms Treaty come from far right groups, it makes you wonder if there's an echo chamber effect in what they're writing. i.e. Did the writers of this article ever go outside of far right groups to do research on the treaty, or are they merely repeating claims without looking into their veracity?

Assuming this is referring to the Arms Trade Treaty, there do appear to be legitimate concerns. The treaty is intended primarily to regulate international trade of firearms and help ensure that they don't get into the hands of human rights abusers, but the devil's in the details and we have to be sure that it's final implementation doesn't violate U.S. law. The Obama administration has already demanded provisions to keep this treaty from infringing on American's Second Amendment rights. Here are two relevant statements from the resolution:

  • Reaffirming the inherent right of all States to individual or collective self defence in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter...
  • Acknowledging also the right of States to regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership, including through national constitutional protections on private ownership, exclusively within their territory...

And even assuming that the State Department allowed the final version of the treaty to somehow infringe upon our rights, and further that it ever managed to get passed by the Senate, there's still the Supreme Court to protect our rights. The Reid v. Covert case set the precedent that the Constitution supersedes any international agreements.

Here are a few sources for more information on the treaty and the U.S. position on it, as well as a link to information about the Reid v. Covert case.

Image Source: United Nations

Updated 2012-12-06 - Added excerpts from article to give examples of the type of language used.

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