UNITED NATIONS — Conservatives in the United States are panicking over the U.S. signing a treaty on the global arms trade, even as the United Nations is confirming the deadly threat these weapons pose around the world.
Secretary of State John Kerry added the U.S. to the list of signatories of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on Thursday, joining at present more than one-hundred countries. Under the terms of the treaty, states must verify that the arms they sell — including tanks, attack helicopters, and small arms — are not going to states where they can be used to suppress human rights or fall into the hands of terrorists.
“This treaty will not diminish anyone’s freedom,” Kerry said after signing. “In fact the treaty recognizes the ability of both individuals and states to obtain, possess, and use arms for legitimate purposes. Make no mistake, we would never think about supporting a treaty that is inconsistent with the rights of Americans, the rights of American citizens, to be able to exercise their guaranteed rights under our Constitution.”
That hasn’t prevented American conservatives from completely losing it over what they’ve labeled a threat to not only their guns but their very freedom. Texas Attorney-General Greg Abbott (R) — despite once conceding that the treaty won’t damage Second Amendment rights — is promising to sue the federal government should the ATT be ratified.
“By signing this treaty, the Obama administration has attempted to subject Americans’ right to bear arms to the oversight of the United Nations. The very reason we fought for independence was to free ourselves from the dictates of leaders in other lands,” Abbott, who is preparing to run in the Republican primary to become governor of Texas, told the Austin-American Statesman. “We are alarmed that the president’s action today includes ‘small arms,’ which could draw law-abiding gun owners and gun store operators into a complex web of bureaucratic red tape created by a new department at the UN devoted to overseeing the treaty.”
Dan Branch, who is running to succeed Abbott in Texas as Attorney General, has similar thoughts. “The bottom line: among other things, this is John Kerry and the Obama Administration attempting to sign away our Second Amendment rights to unelected UN bureaucrats,” he wrote, according to Texas Monthly.
Affirming that the treaty won’t strip gun owners of their rights before claiming that the treaty will still somehow do just that seems to be the preferred modus operandi for this genre of scaremongering. “That is guaranteed in the Second Amendment, and a treaty cannot trump an expressed guarantee in the Constitution,” former judge Andrew Napolitano explained to Fox News on Thursday morning, during a discussion on whether the treaty could cause a government gun grab.
But shortly afterwards, he felt free to indulge in some conspiracy theorizing over the possibility that the treaty put the U.S. on the slippery slope to U.N. control of the U.S. “But you know what, [Fox host Brian Kilmeade], the people that are behind this treaty want that world government,” Napolitano insisted. “And in their minds, this is a step toward it… Eventually controlling all of us.”
Meanwhile, at the United Nations itself, the U.N. Security Council met Thursday afternoon to discuss the actual threat that small arms pose worldwide. An estimated 300,000–500,000 deaths per year — roughly a death per minute — are caused via small arms, French foreign minister Fabius Laurent said after the Council adopted its first resolution on the topic by a vote of 14 in favor and one abstention. The high-level meeting was the Australia’s idea, who currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council and headed by newly appointed foreign minister Julie Bishop.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon at the top of the meeting briefed on his recent report to the Council on small arms. “The world is overarmed and peace underfunded,” he told the Council, before praising the adoption of the ATT and its ability to help alleviate the plague of small arms in conflict zones.
“The arms trade touches on many core interests of States,” the Secretary-General’s report reads. “The adoption of the [Arms Trade] Treaty is a clear indication that States have been willing to compromise and make concessions for the sake of international peace and security. Through this historic Treaty, governments have demonstrated their willingness to ensure that the legitimate arms trade does not fuel violence and armed conflicts or become an inadvertent source for the illicit trade.”