I have to admit that I was skeptical about the U.N. ever getting its act together enough to construct an Arms Trade Treaty that it could agree on, but I underestimated the level of cooperation attainable by that body when its target is liberty.
With the terrorist-exporting state of Iran in a leadership role, the committee has been plowing down obstacles and rapidly moving toward an agreement. The final treaty language is expected to be released by the end of July, and the Obama administration has committed to supporting it – if it doesn’t interfere with its interpretation of the Second Amendment.
That’s not a very big “if” when you consider that we’re talking about Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, both of whom have expressed support for the Second Amendment and, in the same breath, endorsed the idea of banning entire classes of firearms.
So far, a majority of U.S. senators has signed letters declaring opposition to the treaty – if it interferes with the Second Amendment. Wayne LaPierre of the NRA has testified before the U.N. committee writing the treaty and expressed NRA’s strong opposition to any provisions that might interfere with the Second Amendment. Numerous conservative leaders, gun-rights groups and media pundits have denounced the treaty for the threat it represents to the Second Amendment.
That’s just fine, as far as it goes, but there is much more to be concerned about with this treaty than its ratification or its impact on the Second Amendment. It is a mistake to make the Second Amendment our only objection. The fact is, the Second Amendment cannot be overruled by any treaty, and it is highly unlikely that any significant number of senators would ever vote for any treaty that even appeared to try and do so. What is missing from the arguments is the core philosophy of fundamental rights upon which the Second Amendment is based.
The Second Amendment is simply a statement reiterating an existing right that is possessed by all peoples – a fundamental human right to self-defense and self-determination. That fundamental human right does not exist only for Americans and is not dependent on the Constitution for its existence. For U.S. opponents to the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty to focus solely on how the treaty might impact the rights of Americans is short-sighted and selfish. It is also self-defeating.
As the leading proponent of liberty in the world, the U.S. has an obligation to oppose anti-liberty initiatives, wherever they erupt. This is the only reason for U.S. involvement in the U.N. If we, as a nation, are not going to stand up in the U.N. and fight for human rights and justice for all people everywhere, then our involvement in the U.N. is a hoax and should be ended.
From a practical standpoint, Refusing to oppose the treaty if it does not directly threaten our rights is tantamount to passing out matches to all of the neighborhood children and telling them to burn anything they want except our house. Even if we manage to keep our house from burning down, we are going to end up surrounded by death, destruction and bedlam. Advocating for liberty and against tyranny is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do.
It should be noted that even though a majority of the Senate has expressed opposition to the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, and all treaties must be ratified by a two-thirds vote in the Senate, that vote requirement is not two-thirds of the entire Senate, but, rather, two-thirds of senators present and voting. After the way the health-care bill was pushed through both houses of Congress, it is not hard to imagine an attempt at ratification in some late-night session when many senators are absent. While such shenanigans are unlikely – and there are Senate rules and traditions in place to try and keep anything like that from happening – it is still a possibility.
Something else that should be noted is that even if the U.S. were to be exempted from every provision of this treaty, it would still have a significant impact on us. U.S. companies and citizens buy and sell billions of dollars worth of guns and ammunition in the legal international market. This treaty is likely to close doors into foreign markets for that business and even more likely to close doors out of those markets. This would result in the loss of billions of dollars of business for U.S. companies, and cost U.S. consumers billions of dollars in higher prices for guns, ammunition and gun parts.
Rather than demanding that senators pledge to vote against ratification of this treaty, or that they voice objections to anything in the treaty infringing on the Second Amendment rights of U.S. citizens, senators and representatives should be instructed to demand that the Arms Trade Treaty be limited to apply only to serious military hardware and stay completely away from any type of interference in civilian arms issues. They should also demand that the treaty not obstruct or encourage the obstruction of sales of military surplus parts and ammunition into the U.S. civilian market.
Isolationism has been proven to be a recipe for failure. It is a morally bankrupt position to advocate isolationism in regard to the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty as it prepares to assist tyrants in trampling the rights of their own people.