Written by Staff
By Phil Cerroni
As humanitarian organizations like Amnesty International hailed the United Nations’ March 27 Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) as a major step towards eradicating violent conflicts and humanitarian crimes around the world, gun advocacy groups in the United States, including the National Rifle Association (NRA) voiced strong opposition to the Treaty, claiming it will infringe on the Constitutional right to bear arms. The NRA announced on their website that the ATT is “incompatible with our Second Amendment rights.”
The ATT regulates the international trade of conventional weapons, a category ranging from battle tanks and warships to light weapons and small arms. This latter category includes a large number of handguns, shotguns and assault-style rifles that many Americans own for recreational purposes – Berettas, Glocks and Sigs are all popular imports.
Although the preamble to the ATT has a broad focus “underlining the need to prevent and eradicate the illicit trade in conventional arms and to prevent their diversion to the illicit market, or for unauthorized end use and end users, including the commission of terrorist acts,” the NRA looked at the specific effects the Treaty could have on individual gun owners in the United States.
“Such provisions could lead to a system of firearm registration and significant additional burdens being placed on the firearms industry as well as the millions of American gun owners who occasionally trade and sell firearms out of their own personal collections, the “"Undead" U.N. Arms Trade Treaty” article stated.
Ladd Everitt, the Director of Communications for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence was more sanguine about what he thinks is the negligible negative effect the ATT will have if it is passed by Congress.
“The treaty is replete with protections for domestically-enacted laws. It explicitly recognizes the sovereign status of each country and the laws they have enacted to protect domestically-owned firearms,” he wrote. “Furthermore, obviously, our Constitution requires a 2/3 vote of the U.S. Senate to ratify treaties and any actual changes in our gun laws would have to pass both chambers of Congress and be signed into law by our President.
“Given all these protections, it's difficult to understand how anyone outside of a conspiracy theorist--or NRA fundraiser--could argue that the treaty is a threat to the Second Amendment.”
Ernest Leonard, an attorney with the Dallas-based law firm Friedman and Feiger thinks the effects the Treaty will have on average, gun owning Americans is an open question.
“How the courts would view the creation of a national control system in light of the Second Amendment also is an open question; it would probably depend upon how burdensome the mechanics of a national control system are upon individual gun ownership rights. That is, if the national control system is narrowly tailored to address international arms dealers (the intent of the treaty), the law would probably pass constitutional muster. However, if it is overly broad to affect an average citizen who happens to own a gun manufactured outside the U.S., the law would probably find itself subject to judicial scrutiny.”
Read the whole story in the April 13 edition of The Rambler.