UN arms treaty debate hits general media
By Joseph P. Tartaro
The global gun control debate that has been simmering largely behind closed doors at the United Nations (UN), but has been featured in the gun press and on the Internet suddenly moved into the general media in June.
A columnist in Forbes magazine issued a general warning about the UN’s Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and pulled no punches in his criticism of the international compact which is scheduled to be finalized in 2012, sometime before the US presidential and congressional elections.
Forbes contributor Larry Bell warned the public and the business community in particular that if such a treaty is passed, it will be a serious threat to the Second Amendment. That’s what many in the gun community have been saying since the professional diplomats at the UN started crafting the treaty’s language in 2001. The treaty has been moving forward for several years at the UN headquarters and in committee meetings held in major cities around the world.
Gun rights organizations including the National Rifle Association, Second Amendment Foundation, Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, National Shooting Sports Foundation and others have been warning about UN gun control initiatives for several years, but those warning have been largely ignored or packaged as a harmless placebo by the general press.
Bell, a professor of Space architecture at the University of Houston, suggested in his Forbes column outlining the impact of many of its provisions that the threat is not only real; “it may be closer than anyone thinks, thanks to the Obama administration.”
According to Bell, terms of a proposed treaty are likely to include strict licensing requirements, confiscation and destruction of “unauthorized” civilian firearms, a ban on the trade, sale and private ownership of all semi-automatic firearms and the creation of an international gun registry.
“In short,” he wrote, the treat would override “our national sovereignty.” In the process, he said the federal government would assume control over state regulatory powers guaranteed by the Tenth Amendment, and override the Second Amendment to the Constitution.
Bell noted that former UN Ambassador John Bolton had “cautioned gun owners to take this initiative seriously.” Bolton asserted that the UN gun grabbers are trying to portray this treaty as a simple document between various nations designed to cut weapons shipments to terrorists when it was much more dangerous.
But, Bell noted, the position taken by Bolton in the days when Bolton was voting against a binding treaty was changed in 2009 when President Obama’s Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, voted to support a binding treaty and promised to push for its adoption by the US Senate if the ATT was adopted by “consensus” by other nations.
The reaction to Bell’s article in Forbes immediately set off alarm bells with supporters of the ATT. Within days, UN Dispatch, an Internet website that claims to offer “thoughtful perspectives” and “factual information” about the UN’s work, published its rebuttal to Bell’s warning.
UN Dispatch termed Bell’s article as “particularly inflammatory” and set out to respond to his five main points of threat.
UN Dispatch denied that the ATT would regulate domestic sales of firearms, and then spent a lot of words explaining how difficult it would be to reach consensus, given that American gunowners are not the only opponents, and how hard it would be to get the US Senate to approve the treaty, even if it did pass.
Perhaps now the general media will begin seriously explaining the ATT to the American public and turn the issue into a major topic of the 2012 presidential debates.
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