The United Nations yesterday finally passed the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), laying out new regulations of the $70 billion trade of arms between countries. In doing so, the U.N. has once more drawn the ire of conservatives, including those who believe that the treaty could infringe on Americans’ Second Amendment rights. Abbott sent a stern letter to President Obama, urging him not to sign the treaty, claiming it “does more than trample Second Amendment rights.”
Echoing that letter, Abbott admitted on Fox today that nothing in it as written has the ability to violate the Second Amendment:
KELLY: There may be some gaps, there may be some things that the U.N. tries to control that our law hasn’t specifically gotten to yet. And so, it could lead to more gun control here in the United States that the U.N. would have to oversee.
ABBOTT: Precisely, this is a step in a very dangerous direction, and that is the argument could be made, the treaty is worded so vaguely — there is no specific violation of a Second Amendment right, a Second Amendment right right now. However, there could be a violation later on depending upon the way that the United Nations applies and interprets this treaty at a future date.
Watch the interview here:
Counter to Abbott’s claim that the United Nations would be able to interpret the treaty in a way that would violate individual ownership rights, the American Bar Association has concluded that Americans needn’t fear such an outcome. As the ABA points out in their white paper, import restrictions on firearms have been ruled constitutionally valid. At present, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms regulates and tracks the import of firearms into the United States, leaving no need for further domestic legislation regarding the ATT’s implementation.
Exports of firearms, the ABA also notes, are not protected under the Second Amendment. Further, thanks to the efforts of countries like the United States, the ATT is not as strong as some advocates would prefer. Instead, the treaty is written to only affect the transfer of arms between states, not individuals, and only bars that transfer in the event of massive human rights violations on the level of crimes against humanity. The ABA does agree with Abbott, though, that any parts of the Arms Trade Treaty that would violate the Second Amendment would be rendered void.
Republicans and the National Rifle Association have been marshaling domestic opposition to the treaty for almost a year now, raising fears of government “gun-grabs.” In these fantasies, the Obama administration would use the supposed authority the treaty grants to end private gun ownership rights. Secretary of State John Kerry, however, came to the same conclusion as Abbott, issuing a statement yesterday that affirmed the lack of provisions in the ATT that would violate the Second Amendment.
This isn’t the first time that Abbott has shadow-boxed against the looming threat of the United Nations. As Abott proudly reminded Kelly, he was one of several Republicans to sound the alarm over so-called “U.N. election monitors” in the run-up to the 2012 Presidential election. In that instance as well, it was shown that the hype surrounding the monitors — who weren’t from the U.N. and had been present at elections for a decade — was just that.