The United Nations and the ARMS TRADE TREATY (ATT)
When I used to hear folks say get the UN out of the US, I thought they were extreme. I always thought of the UN as the UNICEF group. Around the Halloween time, when I was done with candy, I would collect spare change for the poor kids around the world. I thought it was great. Today, I am not so hot on the United Nations. The UN doesn’t have a viable purpose to me except to keep an eye on crazy countries. Most of the member states of the UN don’t even like the freedoms we have.
In 2001, the UN created a multilateral treaty that would regulate the international trade in conventional weapons. It is also called the “Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects” or POA.
Aside from our freedom, it impacts us financially. At 55 billion a year, the US is the world’s largest arms exporter of the weapons they hate.
All of it is based on the false assumption that the illicit trade in small arms is a large and serious problem requiring global action. It is not. The fact is that there is no global problem. But the truth never stopped the anti-rights groups before.
There are one hundred and fifty three countries in favor of ATT/POA.
Back in October 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the US was “changing” from its former position by President Bush, which had opposed a proposed Arms Trade treaty on the grounds that national controls were better. From a freedom point of view, we need to make sure the ATT does not undermine national constitutional protections and individual rights.
Julienne Versnel-Gottlieb has been taking the lead on it from the Second Amendment Foundation(SAF). She had a prepared statement before Hurricane Sandy shut down the city that said:
Versnel was prepared to say that,
“The right of self-defense is a right that is particularly important to women.” This would have a significant bearing on future work to adopt an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) or a Programme of Action (POA).
“We have a right to protect our bodies, to protect ourselves against assault and rape,” her statement says. “No one questions that violence against women is endemic. Mr. Chairman there are those who say women should rely on the police, the authorities, or even the UN for protection. Mr. Chairman, I reject this idea. In fact Mr. Chairman, this concept is part of the outmoded and disproved idea that women are somehow weaker and must rely on men for their protection.
“Most of the delegates here know that in the US there is extensive firearms ownership,” her statement continues. “What they do not know is that almost half of the handguns in the US are owned by women. They are used for self-defense by women. I fully endorse, as should every person in this room, the idea that women must have the means to defend themselves. Nothing that is before this Committee…should affect a women’s right to defend herself.”
Versnel was set to remind the panel about the late Eleanor Roosevelt’s travels through the South to defend integration in 1958. She carried a .38-caliber revolver after being advised by the Secret Service against making the trip.
“No one supported the UN more than she did,” Versnel’s remarks note, “but at the same time she insisted on her right, as a woman and as a person, to have the means to defend herself.”
The SAF is a member of the International Association for the Protection of Civilian Arms Rights or IAPCAR. You have probably heard about the NRA/ILAs’ position on it a long time ago but here is a quote from the NRA.
“Anti-gun treaty proponents continue to mislead the public, claiming the treaty would have no impact on American gun owners. That’s a bald-faced lie. For example, the most recent draft treaty includes export/import controls that would require officials in an importing country to collect information on the ‘end user’ of a firearm, keep the information for 20 years, and provide the information to the country from which the gun was exported. In other words, if you bought a Beretta shotgun, you would be an ‘end user’ and the U.S. government would have to keep a record of you and notify the Italian government about your purchase. That is gun registration. If the U.S. refuses to implement this data collection on law-abiding American gun owners, other nations might be required to ban the export of firearms to the U.S.”
Given the predominant position of the United States as a global arms exporter any such treaty would have limited relevance without its participation. Ratification would require passage by a 2/3 majority of the U.S. Senate in addition to presidential approval, which is rendered unlikely by opposition from gun rights groups such as the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America, who claim that the treaty is an attempt to circumvent the Second Amendment and similar guarantees in state constitutions in order to impose domestic gun regulations.
Even though it’s one of those international issues, it is important for us to watch here and watch which of our local politician’s side with the anti-rights people.
As of September 14, 2011, 58 US Senators (45 Republicans and 13 Democrats) have expressed their opposition to an ATT that would limit the Second Amendment rights of US citizens. The good news is this group comprises far more than 1/3 of the Senate, so it is big enough to block ratification of the treaty by the United States if the treaty addresses civilian ownership of firearms. The bad news is its all muddled in international politics and nobody else has the Second Amendment like we do.
At the same time I was walking the neighborhood collecting spare change in a little milk carton for UNICEF I learned that the prefix of “un” meant not. The UN (united nations) still means that for freedom and it is not a friend of US.
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