In an email sent out on Wednesday to its supporters, the NRA ominously warned about the coming collusion between the United Nations and President Obama in the name of “trampling our Second Amendment freedoms.” The vehicle for this complete destruction of the Constitution? The recently passed United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which opens for signature on June 3. Despite the fact that only North Korea, Syria, and Iran voted against the treaty, the right-wing in the United States has long opposed what it sees as a chance for the government to legally steal Americans’ handguns.
The NRA email went to great lengths to solidify this fear in the minds of its supporters, repeatedly referring to the ATT as the “global gun ban treaty,” or variations thereof. “We need to send a clear message to every Senator that they have only two choices: Side with us and stop the U.N. gun ban treaty … or start looking for a new job at election time,” the message tells its readers. Despite the dark tidings, the ATT actually doesn’t affect the Second Amendment, something that even Texas’ extremely conservative attorney general begrudgingly admitted.
Instead, the treaty seeks to limit the sale of arms — including attack helicopters, tanks, and other larger arms, as well as small arms and ammunition for these weapons — to regimes that use them to violate human rights. To achieve this, the treaty requires states set up a system for tracking exports of arms to other countries and reporting those statistics to the United Nations annually. The U.S. government already tracks the sale of weapons overseas, meaning very little will change in practice for American citizens.
Undaunted by facts and unable to kill the treaty before it passed at the United Nations, despite its best efforts, the NRA now is attempting to shut down its passage in the Senate. As with all treaties, a two-thirds majority is required to ratify the ATT. “Your signed petition is the best tool we have against this attack on our gun rights and our national sovereignty,” the message declares, urging people to sign on to help “line the halls of the Senate with boxes and boxes of these petitions.”
The NRA is asking for “emergency contributions” from petition-signers. “This year, we’ve been forced to spend more than we’ve ever spent … because the attacks we’re facing have been bigger than anything we’ve ever faced before,” the email pleads, seeming to use the time-tested tactic of exploiting fear to raise money.
Unfortunately, the NRA’s messaging already seems to have permeated Washington, with prominent conservatives such as John Yoo and John Bolton penning op-eds unfairly condemning the treaty’s provisions. Senate Republicans are already lining up to condemn the treaty based on the same false pretenses as the NRA. Some members of the GOP are even warning that the treaty will lead to a Rwanda-like genocide. In spite of this opposition, the Obama administration has already made clear that it does intend to sign the treaty once it opens for signature.