The U.N. Small Arms Treaty

BY Herschel Smith
2 years, 5 months ago

David Bosco at Foreign Policy wonders if the proposed U.N. small arms treaty is worth the trouble.  Naturally, he assumes that some kind of good will come out of it.  Eric Sapp at Huffington Post is so self assured that it’s a good thing that he has invoked religion to prove his point, although he commits the genetic fallacy, i.e., aligning supporters, as if the fact that someone agrees with him makes him right.

More clearheaded, Ted Bromund writing at Heritage makes the case that the treaty isn’t what they claim it to be.

There are quite a few reasons to be concerned about the U.N.’s pending Arms Trade Treaty. It poses a number of risks to the Second Amendment and, more broadly, it is based on the completely fallacious belief that all the world’s nations are actually serious about controlling the illicit arms trade. If they were, of course, no treaty would be necessary. What the treaty will end up doing is making the arms trade more dangerous, by giving the world’s dictator states an internationally-recognized right to import and export all the guns they want to.

[ ... ]

There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about the arms trade. One is that lots of nations supply arms to terrorists and dictators as a matter of policy, or because they simply want the money. Another is that many of the world’s nations do not control their own borders, or their own territory, and so are in no position to control the arms trade. Neither of these problems will be addressed by a treaty that, according to its own draft text, is supposed to be “non-discriminatory.” In other words, the treaty is at once supposed to encourage nations to be more discriminatory in their arms exports to other nations, and to be applied without discriminating against anyone. The U.S. is not going to leave the Second Amendment issues aside, but even if it did, the treaty’s internal hypocrisy is an excellent reason to believe that it’s not worth backing.

Bromund is being kind.  The treaty is a monstrosity and shouldn’t even be considered for ratification.  The treaty wants to distinguish between civilian and military weapons, a notion that went out more than twenty years ago, a problem which also undermines the usefulness of the gun control act of 1968 and related ATF studies.  The treaty authors also want to control ammunition, want a national gun registry (which Canada finally rejected and jettisoned), want ballistic fingerprinting and microstamping of all firearms, desire un-transferability of firearms, and so on.  The problems are too numerous and extensive to outline.

Not only does this treaty intrude on the second amendment rights of American citizens, and not only is it hypocritical in its intent, it would target the very country who abides by its laws and allow the perpetrators justification for their own actions.  The treaty is just one more progressive, micromanaging, over-controlling, statist solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.  We’ve seen ten thousand like it, and as long as the U.N. gets funding and a home from the U.S. government, we will see many more instances of this kind of busy-body meddling into the affairs of American citizens.



  • bob sykes

    It is an established principle in Constitutional law that a treaty cannot amend the Constitution and that any provision in a treaty that is in conflict with the Constitution is null and void.

    Of course, this does not prevent people from trying to use treaties to circumvent the Constitution, and it would require a lawsuit to prevent them from doing so, but the principle remains.

  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    Yes Bob, we’re in agreement. But there are two problems. The first is a direct, frontal assault on the second amendment.

    Why is this a problem? Because there were four SCOTUS justices who didn’t believe that the second amendment recognizes a right to bear arms (viz. dissenting in Heller and McDonald). Assuming that Kagan votes like her predecessor, which I think is a fairly safe assumption, there are still four justices who believe that way.

    The second is an assault on the second amendment by drips. A drip here, a drip there. Death by a thousand cuts, as it were. This assault may be the more dangerous because more insidious.

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  • Erik

    There has always been an inherent problem when dealing with the Constitution. We have to assume that the founding fathers meant one thing over another thing or we have to apply what they wrote 200 years ago to what’s going on now. In the second amendment’s case there’s the problem that weapons have changed dramatically.
    Personally, I am of the mindset that the Second Amendment isn’t about the right to bear arms so much as it is about the right to be able to overthrow an abusive government. Bearing arms is obviously the means of doing so and the Amendment should be considered along those lines (if you’re willing to take a purely Constitutional viewpoint). Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not saying that we should be limited in what we can purchase to some of the ridiculous levels some states are trying to (or have) pushed.
    That’s where people will disagree and argue. To be honest, I don’t think it’s an answer that is easily resolved. It becomes a constant push and shove battle that we should be used to by now.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Second Amendment and was published May 30th, 2012 by Herschel Smith.

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