By: Peter Suciu
At the end of the Second World War, the United Nations was created as a way to help maintain peace and stability.
In recent years, however, critics of the organization have argued that it often engages in considerable overreach in its efforts. This is especially true in how certain aspects of its efforts to reduce conflict around the globe violate the rights of American citizens. This is most evident in the Second Amendment and the UN's attempts to regulatethe sale of firearms.
At the center of this contentious issue is the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), a multilateral treaty that regulates the international trade in conventional weapons. The actual treaty has been in effect since 2014, and while it was meant to regulate the sales and transfers of tanks, military aircraft and other military hardware, and reduce conflict, its critics – including the National Rifle Association (NRA) and National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) – have warned that it could actually impact U.S. gun owners by limiting the availability of commercially made firearms and parts.
To date, 110 nations have ratified the treaty, while 32 have signed but not ratified it. Among those latter nations is the United States. In fact, two years ago, then-President Donald Trump withdrew from the treaty, and in a statement at the time said, "We will never surrender America's sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy."
The NRA has also weighed in on the issue, and warned that the ATT could even require all firearms purchased by Americans to be tracked, and guns registered to ensure compliance with the treaty.
"ATT has consequences for American gun owners," the NRA said in a statement via its official social media account(@NRA). "If the UN gets its way, its deliberately undefined & loose terminology will be used to mandate the provision of personal info related to any American that purchases a firearm manufactured overseas to the origin country's govt."
The group added, "This is the first step towards creating a global firearms registry."
This week, several Republican lawmakers have also expressed similar concerns. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) this week joined Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and more than 30 other senators in urging President Biden not to support the treaty.
"We write to you today seeking clarification on your Administration’s position on the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Recent remarks by Deputy Director for Conventional Arms Threat Reduction, William Malzahn, seem to indicate your intention to rejoin this misguided and overbearing international treaty," the senators wrote in their letter to the president.
"At the Seventh Conference of States Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty, Deputy Director Malzahn stated, 'The United States has long supported strong and effective national controls on the international transfer of conventional arms, and the Arms Trade Treaty is an important tool for promoting those controls internationally.' We find this statement to be most concerning and contrary to the current and historical position of the United States," added the senators.
The lawmakers also warned the "vague language of the ATT could make American commitments uncertain, but also could impact lawful gun owners.
"Under any circumstance, it is inconceivable that the United States would consider subjecting our constitutional right to bear arms to international oversight and interference," the senators concluded. "For these reasons, we request clarification on your intentions regarding this international accord. Moreover, we urge you to reject the ATT; however, should you have plans otherwise, please know we will unequivocally oppose its ratification in the Senate."
Biden has pledged to make gun control a cornerstone of his agenda, and while his ATF nominee has been withdrawn, there is still the very real danger the ATT and other forms of treaties could be used as a form of backdoor or de facto gun control.
For now, it seems that lawmakers have seen potential danger the ATT could pose to the gun owners, as well as to the very Constitution.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.