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UN Arms Trade Treaty Could Shut Down Flow Of Surplus Ammo


April 13, 2013

During that first term, the one reassuring promise from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was that the final treaty draft had to achieve the full consensus of the drafting committee in order to gain US support. It was this demand for full consensus – a unanimous vote – that effectively tabled the troublesome treaty during Obama’s reelection campaign.

Enter 2013 and a new Obama administration no longer concerned with reelection, and a new Secretary of State, John Kerry. At the conclusion of what was scheduled to be the final meeting of the committee drafting the treaty, the US suddenly reversed its position on consensus. On March 29 2013 we reported that the draft treaty had again been stymied in committee by a few countries objecting to certain provisions – thus denying consensus. But we warned that the reversal of the US position on consensus could mean the treaty would come out of committee and be pushed through the UN General Assembly. The US representative to the drafting committee, Thomas Countryman, had declared at the close of the conference that insisting on true consensus was not realistic, and said that the US would vote for the treaty if it were to come to the floor of the General Assembly. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was quick to express his support for moving forward with the treaty, and just a few days later, on April 2 2013, the treaty was introduced on the floor of the Assembly where it was quickly adopted – led by the US delegation.

Careful examination of the treaty language that was adopted offers little that raises serious concerns for US shooters and gun owners. The most hyped aspect has been regarding requirements that participating nations maintain lists of arms and armament as something of a global inventory of available weaponry. Some have construed this to be a requirement for universal registration of guns, ammunition, and gun owners. That interpretation is a stretch at best, but given the history and attitudes of the UN and the current administration, anything that we could perceive as a threat, has the potential for realization, no matter how much of a stretch it is.

Beyond that, the main concerns we have with the treaty are that it fails to distinguish between military armaments and civilian arms, it will, at the very least, complicate matters for foreign manufacturers who serve the US consumer market, it invites abuse that could make traveling with firearms for hunting or other lawful purposes virtually impossible, and it has serious potential to interfere with, if not completely shut down, the flow of surplus ammo and parts into the US.