Arms Trade Treaty goes domestic

3 Aug

Predictably, reactionary news networks, along with their followers, are on the defense over the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), many warning that domestic rights are being compromised as “anti-gun elites” run rampant at the United Nations.

We’ve heard it all before: ‘United Nations’ End Run Around Constitution?’, ‘NRA Takes on ‘Anti-Gun Elitists’ at UN’, ‘Sen. Moran & 44 Senators Tell Obama Administration Second Amendment Rights’. Most of this is of course reactionary crazy-talk – baseless assumptions of a UN conspiracy against US gun-owners.

Most citizens would of course recognize the importance of such a treaty. The ATT is about international arms transfers. Currently, the global trade in conventional weapons (warships, battle tanks, fighter jets, machine guns) is unregulated; internationally agreed standards do not exist to ensure that arms are only transferred for appropriate use, not into the hands of those abusing human rights, including terrorists and criminals, and helping to prevent needless armed conflicts and killings around the world.

A recent rebuttal of the far fetched claims came from GAPW’s Robert Zuber. In an article by ‘Opposition mounts to UN gun control treaty opposition mounts to UN gun control treaty’, followed with over 20o comments – he responded with the following:

“Since neither the author of this piece nor those writing comments (so far) was in the room as UN delegates were making final preparations for Arms Trade Treaty negotiations, perhaps a bit of a reality check is in order.

 Once again, the NRA has done a splendid job of reaching out to select US media. However, the individual from the NRA who was given a platform at the UN to make a US-focused speech at the ATT Prep Com (a courtesy which is rarely extended and then normally only to groups exhibiting a broader geographical interest), walked out of the building once his remarks were concluded.   Neither did he apparently bother to attend the sessions leading up to his remarks.  Apparently, like so many sharing opinions on this issue, it was better not to taint his outrage with too much direct experience.

It is certainly predictable to have media folks whip up a frenzy about the UN taking away peoples’ guns and rendering them helpless against the alleged tyranny of the state.  However, as the chief US negotiator to the ATT process — someone who has not been the most congenial presence in the Prep Com room — would readily acknowledge, the ATT is not a disarmament treaty.  It does not propose to destroy weapons or to eliminate their legal possession.  It provides guidelines for arms transfers and seeks to end diversion by which arms traded legally end up in the hands on non-state actors such as criminals and terrorists, are used to violate the human rights of populations, or are ‘re-gifted’ by recipient governments to line their own pockets.   Which of these three diversion potentials the NRA, your readers, the author of this piece, or even our DC legislators would refuse to support is their own call to make, but to refuse to support any of these objectives is simply beyond reason.

I was a gun owner for much of my life.  I respect but don’t fear weapons.  Nor do I fear the ATT or the non-existent ‘power’ of the UN to strip citizens of their guns.   Readers are free to hate the UN.  They are also free to act as though the second amendment is the only legally relevant, binding aspect of the US Constitution.  But what some are accusing the ATT process of promoting is simply nonsense as even 20 attentive minutes inside the Prep Com room would readily reveal.”

Follow discussion on the ATT process:

– Kees Keizer

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