Are Fears of A United Nations Gun Grab Overblown?

In a recent article, Adam Weinstein from The Trace argues that concerns over the United Nations Global Arms Trade Treaty are overblown. Basically, Weinstein says that the vaguely worded and tepidly supported doctrine does not pose an existential threat to the Second Amendment. Yet, despite its innocuousness, Weinstein asserts, the treaty is being used by the National Rifle Association as fear porn, a way to gin up support, donations and engagement from the pro-gun masses.

Weinstein is correct to an extent. The U.N. Arms Trade Treaty in its current iteration is not the death of one’s right to keep and bear arms in the states. But that doesn’t mean gun owners shouldn’t be alarmed by the those who support an international arms deal.

Why It’s Not a Threat

The Arms Trade Treaty is an international treaty designed to encourage member states that engage in the import, export and transfer of conventional arms to be more scrupulous before selling different categories of weapons to other countries and regimes. Within the ATT, there are calls for each country to be more transparent about their importing/exporting of conventional weaponry, e.g. battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers and small arms and light weapons.

Quite honestly, the ATT is a joke. It’s wishful thinking. Like all gun control legislation, it starts from a flawed premise that one more law, or in this case international treaty, is all that’s needed to stop bad actors from behaving badly. Of course, that’s absurd. Criminals, by definition, flout the law. So do failed states and rogue superpowers. We can sanction Russia, China, Iran or whomever we wish for violating international law, but does that stop them from continuing to do so? Not usually.

But what’s funny about the ATT is that it’s having a lot of trouble gaining support from those nations —- including the U.S. — that do the vast majority of arms importing and exporting. As Weinstein pointed out:

“It’s hard to see how any such treaty will be enforceable in a meaningful way. Because of the U.N.’s principle of general respect for member nations’ sovereignty — a principle that’s made it infamously slow to react to crises and genocides — the small arms treaty is binding only on the 72 states who have ratified it. Absent from that list, as mentioned above, is the U.S. Absent, too, are China and Russia, who together with America represent three of the globe’s largest small-arms dealers. Nor have conflict-torn states like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo committed to the agreement.”

So, every country the U.N. wants to sign on the dotted line has not yet done so and probably won’t unless major concessions are made with respect to the level of trading transparency each country is required to report. It stands to reason that by the time they’re done negotiating, the ATT will be so toothless in its mandates that it won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.

There is another reason that the ATT is not a legitimate threat to the U.S. Our GOP-dominated Congress will never approve it. On several occasions, lawmakers have sent letters to the Obama administration stating that they will vote against the Arms Trade Treaty, including one signed in 2013 by as many as 49 senators and 181 representatives. The lawmakers cited the following reasons for opposing the treaty:

1. The treaty failed to achieve consensus, and was adopted by majority vote in the U.N. General Assembly. This violates the red line drawn by the Obama Administration;

2. The treaty allows amendments by a three-quarters majority vote, circumventing the power and duty of the U.S. Senate to provide its advice and consent on treaty commitments before they are assumed by the United States;

3. The treaty includes only a weak non-binding reference to the lawful ownership, use of, and trade in firearms, and recognizes none of these activities, much less individual self-defense, as fundamental individual rights. This poses a threat to the Second Amendment;

4. The State Department has acknowledged that the treaty is “ambiguous.” By becoming party to the treaty, the U.S. would therefore be accepting commitments that are inherently unclear;

5. The criteria at the heart of the treaty are vague and easily politicized. They violate the right of the American people, under the Constitution, to freely govern themselves. The language restricts the ability of the United States to conduct its own foreign policy and allows foreign sources of authority to impose judgment or control upon the United States; and,

6. The State Department has acknowledged that the treaty includes language that could hinder the United States from fulfilling its strategic, legal and moral commitments to provide arms to key allies such as the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the State of Israel.

Identifying the Legitimate Threat

So, the bottom line is gun owners shouldn’t fear this particular ATT. What they should fear, however, is the people behind the Arms Trade Treaty. For lack of a better description: gun-grabbers.

There is no doubt that the NRA makes mountains out of mole hills when it comes to gun-control, not every piece of gun control legislation is as onerous as the NRA makes it appear. By definition then, the NRA is guilty of fear-mongering.

But is it really? I suppose it is if you see each bill as a self-contained effort that has no connection to a larger movement or network of organizations that promote an anti-gun agenda. Seeing it this way, though, is a bit naive in my opinion. The way I view gun control legislation is that every bill is part of a coordinated attack or, if you prefer, a slippery slope that leads to changing the Second Amendment as we know it today.

My friends who are sympathetic to the pro-gun control cause would argue that I’m being hyperbolic, like the NRA, that the “slippery slope” argument doesn’t hold water. Specifically, they’d say, “There’s nothing wrong with a background check! Why don’t you support background checks?”

My response is that today’s background check bill is tomorrow’s magazine ban. And tomorrow’s mag ban is a future ban on black rifles. And on and on and on. When my friends accuse me of being obtuse and regurgitating NRA platitudes, I’d simply say, “Where do so-called ‘common sense’ and ‘reasonable restrictions’ end? Go ahead and ask gun-control advocates. Ask them where it ends. Because most of them won’t have an honest answer to that question.”

Think about it.  If this whole debate was merely about background checks — or treaties to hold feckless U.N. member states accountable on their arm trading — then there would be no debate. We’d reach a compromise and put the issues to bed.

Unfortunately, though, it’s not just about the low-hanging fruits of background checks for private buyers and transparency requirements for U.N. member states. It’s about shifting the country and the world in a direction where one’s individual right to keep and bear arms is wholly subjugated by the powers that be. Make no mistake about it, they are coming for our guns! And that’s not hyperbolic rhetoric. That’s not fear mongering. That’s reality. Just look beyond the background check debate or the Arms Trade Treaty debate and examine New York’s confiscatory SAFE Act or Seattle’s $25 tax on gun purchases or Los Angeles magazine ban and tell me what you see… The writing is on the wall.

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • mike ehrig August 31, 2015, 10:26 pm

    i trust the un less than i trust my current government. this personal weapon deal sounds innocent but originally, so did the iran nuke deal. now the plan includes having the iranians do the inspections of the facilities. kinda like having the fox check and control hen house security.

  • fast2wheeler August 31, 2015, 6:36 pm

    What you are all missing is that fact that the NWO suspended the Constitution in 1933! They didn’t take just the nation’s gold…they took the land and vehicles, etc, and your children’s birth certificates to create financial securities which they spend but you guarantee as a “taxpayer”!
    The North American Treaty was to destroy the USA border and that’s what the illegals are for…and bankrupt us in the process so they can get more control.
    Every year the “President” signs an Emergency Powers decree. The UN legal intellectual garbage designed so you think they are just flakes (like ‘we must pass it to find out what’s in it.” – Obamacare) coming up with stuff that makes no sense and the public thinks will never pass. This is merely distraction to throw you off. What they are doing is finalizing the totalitarian One World Government with European interests running everything for complete control.
    To know = No! Learn, tell your family and friends. Then stand up and shout! The light of knowledge will destroy the darkness of ignorance every time. And if we are to remain a nation we must!

  • Bob Johnson August 31, 2015, 4:05 pm

    You have to be pretty feeble-minded to believe the UN could have ANY effect on gun sale or ownership in the U.S. They can pass resolutions or any other crap they want to, but it isn’t law in our country nor is it enforceable. Some moronic politician may try to enforce that, but it would be a big joke, In fact, if any government offical should try to enforce UN mandates, they would be laughed out of office or forceably removed..

  • BigR August 31, 2015, 3:17 pm

    I disagree with Blannelberry(whoever the hell he is)! When it comes to my constitutional rights, I don’t trust any politician. We start signing these do good treaties with these foreign countries, we’re opening the door to eventual confiscation. All we need is a regime in power like obama’s, and we could be in deep doodoo! He’s trying every trick in the book to get our guns. He’s to dumb to do it on his own, but somebody’s behind him pushing for confiscation, and a total ban. I’m a member of the NRA, but I’m not ate up with them! I joined to make my voice heard in DC, and I believe, if were not for the NRA hierarchy, we would already lost our rights to own a gun. Over the last century, we’ve seen a barrel full of laws all over the country that have been passed, to protect us from ourselves and all they do is protect the criminals. So don’t try to convince me that we’re over reacting, because that’s a crock of BS. My daddy used to tell me that, “SOMETIMES, FEAR IS A GOOD THING”, so, I’ll put my money on the NRA! Right now, it’s the only voice I have! Standing alone, does not work, we have to stick together. Never trust a politician or some unknown writer telling us we don’t have a thing to worry about! We’ve got plenty to worry about! Nuff said!

  • Ted P August 31, 2015, 1:03 pm

    There is no end to “reasonable regulation” or “common Sense ” legislation ! All you have to do is look at places in the U.S. where it has been implemented. NY City had registration on all firearms. They passed a law that said you had 90 days to dispose of all “assault” weapons. Then, they had magazine capacity limits. Now, people are being told to dispose of rifles that can hold more than 5 rounds, to include .22 long rifle. What will be next ? California had mandatory registration of “assault” weapons. Next it was that these registered weapons had to be modified or disposed of. Then, more orders for modification or disposal. Where will that end ? Now, NY State has the “S.A.F.E” law. ALL “assault” weapons had to be registered by April 2014 or be considered contraband. Once registered, they can never be transferred to any other NY resident other than a Law Enforcement Officer ! Any previously owned magazine that is over 10 rounds were contraband. All gun sales must have a NICS check, no exceptions, not even law enforcement ! They also wanted NICS checks on all ammo sales , as well as log books of who bought how much and when. Where will it end ? The answer to all of them is eventual confiscation and the loss of your rights !

  • dave August 31, 2015, 11:56 am

    I disagree with the assessment, but not necessarily the conclusion. Here are 3 reasons why:
    1) I doubt the entire UN could raise an army willing to invade (even at Obama’s invitation it’s an invasion) the US to collect guns. The army of citizens would be several times the manpower of any invading UN Army, and we’re local. Just look at our own lack of success fighting guerrilla forces around the world. It’s a losing bet. Also, all the UN guys would need to be supplied, and we are damned sure smart enough to cut those off for them. So I say UN gun control is not a serious threat, but that does not mean there is NO threat. See below.

    2) There is today nothing but the certainty of failure that prevents Obama from trying to use the UN to do what he can’t trust American troops to do. And he’s already demonstrated a cavalier lack of concern for ‘constitutionality’ of anything that even hinders some agenda of his. If he can think of a way to do this, he just might try, and he still has over a year to try to arrange it.

    3) The UN is willing to be sneaky and try to do things they think are useful anyway, trying to get the ‘national sovereignty’ sold away by those in charge. Just look at Agenda 21 – in the name of ‘sustainability’ they are trying to destroy the concept of private property – sneaking in control of how you use your garden or rain that falls on your home’s roof – through back doors like a ‘zoning advisory organization’ (ICLEI) which tells your local zoning board what to do and how to enforce it. So this last is the point where UN gun control COULD become a serious threat. It’s just not there ‘yet’.

    • K.Deaton September 1, 2015, 7:39 am

      You are correct, Just in the NRA there is 5 million members and that is not the half of it. Look at all the people that hunt and have gun collections. They can’t come up with 5 million soldiers to take us on. It would be a civil war blood bath.

  • draq August 31, 2015, 10:11 am

    everything that comes out of washington or the un is subterfuge designed to lull Americans into a lowered state of awareness so the wee king can overthrow the democracy. so far it’s working, cause no one is trying to stop the wee tyrant. step up or bow down to the blade. your choice.

  • Alan August 31, 2015, 9:00 am

    Yes. All in the name of money.

  • Jay August 31, 2015, 8:32 am

    Make no mistake about it! Those that have not been around long enough to know sluff things like this off as nothing no effect rules of the day! The government abuses each and everything it has when it comes to POWER! It’s all about control and control is what they get when they exert their power, power not granted to them by the people but by themselves and the People being complacent in not doing more to stop their hunger for more, more, more control! Read the past as it’s doom to be repeated if you dont!

  • ashin August 31, 2015, 6:24 am

    As a avid shooter / gun owner, I certainly question the sanity of both right or left on 2A and gun control. First, the US is in no fear of being decimated of its ownership and access to guns. We are the #1 country in the world (see below) for private ownership of firearms. We out rank countries with history of civil strife like Kosovo, Iraq, and Yemen. We out rank a Direct Democracy (Switzerland), …we out rank everyone by large % (its not even a race for most countries with us). The US clearly expresses its 2A rights in the breadth and depth of direct ownership of firearms. Outside of 2A implications, it also is very much impractical to “take away” weapons from the majority of safe and ordinary gun owners considering the depth and extent of ownership in the US. Hence the insanity of both left and right POV on gun ownership – there is neither any practical sense of not having access, nor any practical way to limit firearms en-masse… Slippery slope arguments are a red-herring. There is no slope to slip on. Mostly, we have so many firearms in private hands, we essentially have a what the framers wanted – an army of private citizens (over 300 million firearms in private ownership). Just imagine if each firearm just had 1 box of ammo – that would be around 15 billion bullets out there in private ownership.

    On the other hand, oddly, although we teach firearms safety with a the respect its due – admonishing those who are unsafe, and rightfully placing the onus of safe operation on the firearm operator. We say do not aim a firearm at anything you do not wish to destroy. Should we not also say do not provide a firearm to someone who does not have the mental stability to know right from wrong or a criminal history to demonstrate they cannot control their impulse to do wrong? The counter argument that they “can get a firearm anyhow illegally” is a red-herring. Just because there are lots of cars to be had illegally, we do not expect to give permission and license to drive to a mentally incompetent driver and put them behind the wheel.

    And anyone who thinks the US is socialist is also tilted. In truly socialist countries, I would not be able to do the following: I paid for schooling and applied for jobs, and got a job and career so I can make enough money to pay for private schools, doctors of any sort – even beyond my insurance, a large house, a vacation house, more cars than we have drivers, foods from 100’s of countries, collect art, collect gold, say smart or stupid things on the internet, vote for a Trump or a Sanders, donate to a PAC, donate to our church, fly all over the place, and still have money to put into retirement. I could do little of these things in a truly socialist country. If one feels they can’t do the above? Its not due to the US being a socialist country, its due to a lack of capital opportunity and/or will. A Capitalist society doesn’t give capital to everyone – sorry. And it certainly doesn’t give will to everyone.

    We are a capitalist system underpinned with a civil system of law. We have marginal socialist tendencies compared to most any other country in the world. For example, despite Obamacare, the reason healthcare is expensive has nothing to do with socialism, it has everything to do with a system where we allow (want) companies like insurers, pharmaceuticals, and medical providers to make money – they can charge $ for what they provide. And when things go wrong, we can sue in court (civil) to our content. Why can’t medicare buy medicine from other countries at a discount? Organizations with money buy influence (capitalism) to prevent this. Why can’t doctors be trained for free, and then work for cheap? This subverts the capital-driven system of medicine. We are hardly socialist. We let companies become huge (Apple generates $10b profit a Quarter!). We let money wash in politics. We let people buy Corvettes. We let people invest in stocks, bonds, gold, futures, derivatives. We let companies trade on risk. The Fed generates money supply. We run a vast majority of what we do based on the theories of capital movement. We are fundamentally a capitalist society. If you think one can find a more capitalistic, less socialistic, historically successful, and economically powerful country – good luck.

    Bottom line – if you want a firearm, you can get one. Earn enough money, you can get many. Don’t like your state – buy influence -or- use that money and move to another state. That is about as capitalistic (anti-socialist) as it gets.

    Data on Gun Ownership
    Country Guns per 100
    Residents (2014) Rank
    (2014) Notes
    United States 88.8 1
    Serbia 69.7 2 Not including Kosovo
    Yemen 54.8 3
    Switzerland 45.7 4
    Cyprus 36.1 5
    Saudi Arabia 35 6
    Iraq 34.2 7
    Uruguay 31.8 8
    Sweden 31.6 9
    Norway 31.3 10

    • gabo August 31, 2015, 9:44 am

      The logic I read here into your rational sounds errily familiar w/ the arguments about the “domino effect” concerning communism in the 50’s, ( “If Indochina falls, Thailand is put in an almost impossible position. The same is true of Malaya with its rubber and tin. The same is true of Indonesia. If this whole part of South East Asia goes under Communist domination or Communist influence, Japan, who trades and must trade with this area in order to exist must inevitably be oriented towards the Communist regime”- Richard Nixon, 1953. This comes from the beginning of the theory when it was first put forth, and it was official in 1954.
      And the current understanding, that the brain-washing tactics of the government in the 40’s about cannabis, (“Reefer Madness” About Cannabis being the “gateway” drug to harder more lethal drugs like heroin, cocaine, meth, ) were nothing more “government propoganda” based on lack of knowledge, prejudices and hysteria.
      Your logic is stale besides being flawed and you appear as just another wolf in sheep clothing.

      Gun owner and lifelong hunter.
      Educated Human Rights activist.

  • RidgeRunner August 31, 2015, 3:32 am

    “The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions. In this way, the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed.”
    ― Adolf Hitler

  • DRAINO August 30, 2015, 8:40 am

    Uh, yes they can be undone, if the president/country has the will to do so. No one has had the testicular fortitude to do so. Actually, any international treaty should be considered illegal because then we would not be considered self-governing in accordance with the constitution. The progressive movement has lead us here… the edge of a razor. And yes, it a huge part of implementing the socialist agenda is ….yep, you guessed it…..socialized medicine!!! Thank you for playing! You win the deluxe toaster oven!! And for a bonus….you loose all your rights of freedom!! Yes, Johnny….right here in the good old Socialist States of America…….if things keep going the way they are. Wake up, People!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Tom Horn August 29, 2015, 9:22 am

    I believe the NRA’s contentions are partly with what you refer to as, “vaguely worded,” and “innocuous.” Any current political regime could interpret and carryout implementation of the treaty as they saw fit. International treaties trumps federal law. This is true, as evidenced by the Migratory Bird Act of 1918. I discovered this when I looked into changing the dove hunting season in our state. It could not be done, or undone, as we are bound to this ancient treaty.

    International treaties are not in our best interest, when they impose the will of other nations, on the rights and freedoms of the American People. Don’t go near there with our 2nd Amendment rights.

  • Will Drider August 28, 2015, 12:11 am

    This Treaty is flawed and against American interests as does the Iran Nuke Treaty and its side deals.

    100% Background checks will include transfer logs (registration of every transaction/firearm). Every tool the Gov uses it abuses, look at NSA Data collection.
    Hopefully everyone has noticed the anti gun pressure from the medical field. Doctors asking if you own firearms, appointing a too young and anti gun surgeon general, the Center for Diesease Control (since when is gun violence a diesease?), the American Medical Association and other medical and mental health organazations pushing the anti gun agenda. The next common sense requirement will be to require mental health screening and getting a clean bill of health from them. Recall what the VA is doing to vets and what the Social Security Administration is doing to benifit recipients. Of course if you need a mental health check to buy, surely everybody will need one to possess firearms. Nothing is ever done medically without follow up, so you will ne to be evaluated every few years, when you divorce, get fired, end a relationship, declare bankruptcy an so on. Your firearms will need to be turned in during thes life stressing times as common sense prevention. We all have seen case of how ease it is to get your firearms returned form local, state or fed authorities and thats for our own good too!

    NEVER GIVE A INCH! Look at what the anti gun movements have done since 1939. Kids in school can’t even play cpos and robbers on the playground or bite and hold a pop-tart like a gun! What culture norm will we have in 40 years when these kids who have been taught to demonize guns are running all levels of Gov. Make sure you raise your children and grandchilden well.

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