An ATT will NOT infringe on the Second Amendment: The Facts

June 15 2012, 9:07 AM  by Rosie Cowling

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has previously shared its concerns that a proposed Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) would impose on the US Constitutional Right to keep and bear arms. Analysis by the ATT Legal Response Network shows that there is nothing in the current draft that would infringe upon this right.

The US (and other countries) choose to control arms flows within its national law. But there are still no global rules or restraints for the international trade in weapons. This lack of restraint is what fuels an abundance of war crimes and human rights abuses. It undermines development, causing poverty for millions.

What we need is an internationally recognised and legal treaty for the trade of arms. This would have no bearing on the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Those responsible for drawing up the treaty recognise that it is “the exclusive right of the United States to regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership, including through constitutional protections on private ownership.” An ATT could not and would not infringe on this exclusive right.

In his address to the United Nations in July last year, Wayne LaPierre, the Executive Vice President of the NRA,  remarked:

“We are told ‘Trust us; an ATT will only affect the illegal trade in firearms.’ But then we’re told that in order to control the illegal trade, all states must control the legal firearms trade.”

Scott Stedjan, advisor on the arms trade at Oxfam America, blogged his response:

“It’s strange to argue that states shouldn’t have a handle on legal trade in order to regulate illegal trade. It’s a little like saying that you don’t need to monitor legal pharmaceuticals trade in order to prevent illegal narcotics trade. The ATT will likely require states to adopt a national regulatory system that would control arms transfers of all types of weapons entering or leaving their country. The US already does this so this would not change anything for the US gun manufacturers or gun owners.”

Being able to keep track of weapons leaving or entering their country is not the same as enforcing the registration of domestic weapons. While governments may be required to report on who they grant export or import licenses to, the destinations of the weapons, and the quantity, that does not mean that US civilians will be required to register their guns under the ATT. This is far beyond the scope of the proposed treaty.

There will also not – as has been raised as a concern by the NRA – be an ‘international enforcement bureaucracy’ created which would intrude on domestic gun control regulations. Almost all states have opposed this at UN meetings. Each member nation would be in charge of its own treaty provisions. Therefore, within the United States, constitutional law would play into any provisions made. The ATT would represent no change in the structure of existing U.S. law, which already provides for the comprehensive regulation of international arms transfers.

The NRA has previously stated that it would oppose any treaty that places requirements on governments to place basic controls on the international transfer of ‘civilian firearms’. But the US already does this, and it has no impact of Second Amendment freedoms. An ATT would simply require the US to continue to implement the basic controls already in place. Imposing the inclusion of controls on the transfer of civilian firearms in the ATT is essentially suggesting that an international arms trade law should be lower and weaker than the US’ current laws. This would seriously impinge on the protection of human rights.

Hopefully this blog has cleared up any grey areas that might be concerning people living in the US, or indeed anywhere. However, if you still have concerns or questions about the impact of an international Arms Trade Treaty, please leave your questions in the comment section and we will endeavour to have your query answered by a policy advisor.

For more information on how the ATT will not infringe on the Constitutional Right to bear arms in the US, please read this blog with analysis from the ATT Legal Network.