Gun rights advocates successfully fended off efforts to expand background checks, limit magazine capacity and ban certain firearms weeks ago, but a United Nations treaty that President Obama vows to sign could have the same impact even if the Senate rejects it.
The United Nations Small Arms Trade treaty passed the U.N. General Assembly earlier this year. Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry announced Obama would sign the treaty, noting it is an "important contribution to efforts to stem the illicit trade in conventional weapons, which fuels conflict, empowers violent extremists and contributes to violations of human rights."
Gun Owners of America Executive Director Larry Pratt said the impact of this treaty would be far more damaging than the relatively benign language suggests.
"First of all, it's probably helpful to understand who's the good guys and who's the bad guys at the U.N.," Pratt told WND. "Most of those governments are at best crooked and often dictatorial, tyrannical and just horrible to have anything to do with.
"When they talk about keeping guns out of the wrong hands, they're talking about keeping guns out of the hands of the people that might seek their freedom from these horrible governments. So for us to sign a treaty like that is for the United States to, in effect, sanitize, to approve of these governments, which we do anyway by being part of the U.N., and give them morally a stronger hand in oppressing their people," Pratt said.
Pratt also contends that the U.N. has a terrible track record in protecting human life. He said the horrors in Rwanda are a perfect example of why the U.N. has no business deciding who should and should not have access to guns.
"Among its other distinctions was to preside over the genocide that occurred in Rwanda, taking nearly a million people's lives. U.N. 'peacekeepers' would actually send the people fleeing the massacres back into the hands of those they were fleeing from. That's how horrible the U.N. is," Pratt said. "For us to be part of it means we don't have a problem with genocide. That's exactly why the peoples of the world need their guns, so that they can protect themselves from their own government. That's why we have a Second Amendment."
Pro-Second Amendment groups like Gun Owners of America are heartened to know the treaty will never be officially binding on the United States. Even with Obama's signature, the treaty must be ratified by two-thirds of the U.S. Senate. That has virtually no chance of happening. In fact, 53 senators rejected the treaty on a recent vote. Sixty-seven senators are needed for ratification.
But even if the Senate votes down the treaty, Pratt said Americans could still see their Second Amendment rights infringed.
"Once 50 countries have signed in a treaty, then it's considered to be part of international law. While it doesn't technically bind countries that have not signed it, it puts them under increased pressure. Some of these countries would, of course, welcome the opportunity to say, 'We've got to conform to international law.' I kind of suspect that the current government here in the United States would love to make such an argument," said Pratt, who notes two justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have cited international law in past rulings.
Sixty nations have already signed the treaty, so it will be recognized by the U.N. as international law. Pratt previewed how life could change for existing and future gun owners if the U.S. courts bow to the U.N. position.
"Our government, if it were to implement the terms of the treaty, would have to set up a national gun registration and licensing scheme so that it could make its due diligence in knowing where every gun is sold and bought. The idea being that if you lose track of them inside the country and who knows, they might end up in the hands of some poor Rwandan trying to save his life from his own government, and we can't have that," Pratt said.
"Our own government hasn't had a problem putting guns in the hands of the Mexican cartel, leading to the death, the murder, of at least 400 Mexicans," he said. "It seems to me that if there's any gun control that's needed, it's control of our own government by we the people."