Obama administration backs U.N.'s pursuit of international gun control treaty

"I have no intention of taking away folks' guns." - Barack Obama, Feb 11, 2008

By Chad D. Baus

Reuters is reporting that the Obama administration has reversed U.S. policy and said it would back launching talks on a United Nations treaty to regulate arms sales, a move that pro-gun activists warn is one giant leap toward side-stepping Congress and overturning the Second Amendment.

From the story:

The decision, announced in a statement released by the U.S. State Department, overturns the position of former President George W. Bush's administration, which had opposed such a treaty on the grounds that national controls were better.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States would support the talks as long as the negotiating forum, the so-called Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, "operates under the rules of consensus decision-making."

"Consensus is needed to ensure the widest possible support for the Treaty and to avoid loopholes in the Treaty that can be exploited by those wishing to export arms irresponsibly," Clinton said in a written statement.

Although President Obama is clearly doing their bidding, gun control extremists are still not happy, saying they are opposed to the proposed consensus rules because decisions on the treaty made by consensus "could fatally weaken a final deal."

"The shift in position by the world's biggest arms exporter is a major breakthrough in launching formal negotiations at the United Nations in order to prevent irresponsible arms transfers," Amnesty International and Oxfam International said in a joint statement.

However, they said insisting that decisions on the treaty be made by consensus "could fatally weaken a final deal."

"Governments must resist US demands to give any single state the power to veto the treaty as this could hold the process hostage during the course of negotiations. We call on all governments to reject such a veto clause," said Oxfam International's policy adviser Debbie Hillier.

The proposed legally binding treaty would tighten regulation of, and set international standards for, the import, export and transfer of conventional weapons.

Supporters say it would give worldwide coverage to close gaps in existing regional and national arms export control systems that allow weapons to pass onto the illicit market.

Nations would remain in charge of their arms export control arrangements but would be legally obliged to assess each export against criteria agreed under the treaty. Governments would have to authorize transfers in writing and in advance.

The main opponent of the treaty in the past was the U.S. Bush administration, which said national controls were better.

The change in policy is opposed by the National Rifle Association, as well as by conservative U.S. think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, which is quoted as saying the treaty will not restrict the access of "dictators and terrorists" to arms but would be used to reduce the ability of democracies such as Israel to defend their people.

According to the story, a resolution before the U.N. General Assembly is sponsored by seven nations including Britain. It calls for preparatory meetings in 2010 and 2011 for a conference to negotiate a treaty in 2012.

Despite Mr. Obama's claims of support for the Second Amendment during the 2008 Presidential campaign, and assurances he made to pro-gun Democrats like Governor Ted Strickland (who on October 10, 2008 told Ohioans that "as a result of direct conversations that I've had with Barack Obama, if you are a sportsman, if you are a gun owner, if you are someone that honors and respects the Second Amendment - you have nothing to fear from Barack Obama..."), his "support" fell away immediately upon his election.

During his transition to power, the White House's transition website was updated to voice support for a new gun ban, and potential employees were screened for whether or not they were exercising their Constitutional right to bear arms in their homes.

Since Obama took office, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report that labels millions upon millions of Americans as 'rightwing extremists.' His administration refused to challenge a court order that halted a late-Bush administration policy of allowing CCW license holders to carry in National Parks. In addition, radical anti-gun and anti-hunting extremists have been tapped to fill his cabinet, as well as many other key positions. And the person he selected to serve as the newest Supreme Court justice is on record saying the Second Amendment does not apply to the states.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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