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Old May 20, 2012, 11:32 AM   #1
bikerbill
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Politifacts and the UN

This morning, PolitifactTexas had a report in the Austin Statesman refuting a claim by Craig James, who is running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. James claimed " ... Obama and Hillary Clinton are negotiating with the United Nations about doing a treaty that will ban the use of firearms."

The service checks political statements and decides if the claim is true. In this case, they rated James "Pants on Fire," which is basically calling his statement, if not a lie, at least totally unsupported by evidence.

I have been following this issue and was under the apparent misapprehension that it was true. The column does say Obama's administration has reversed Bush doctrine and has agreed to take part in discussions, which I believe begin in July, over the international control of transfers of arms between nations. It also says there is a General Assembly resolution acknowledging the right of nations to regulate internal transfers of arms.

To my surprise, it also says the Obama administration has stated it will not support limits on the 2nd Amendment.

I want to believe that the UN arms control issue won't have anything to do with my ownership and future purchase of additional guns.

I'd love to see what my fellow TFL members think about this. Is the UN issue something to worry about, or is it, as PolitifactsTexas says, "Pants on Fire?

I hope this is an acceptable topic; if it's not, I'm guessing I'll hear about it.
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Old May 20, 2012, 11:54 AM   #2
Gary L. Griffiths
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I think that reports of the Obama administration pursuing a UN treaty that will ban the use of firearms is a "sky is falling!" view of the actual proposed UN treaty. Not that the proposals won't be odious for gun owners.

The statement that the administration won't support limits on the 2nd Amendment is surprising. Do they have a citation for this statement? Of course, I doubt that Obama considers firearms registration, licensing of all ammunition manufacturing (even hobby reloaders), etc., to be "limits on the 2nd Amendment."
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Old May 20, 2012, 12:05 PM   #3
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Gary, the piece cited a statement last month by Thomas Countryman, an asst. sec. in the State Department's Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation. He said in summarizing the admininstration's goals for the treaty conference, "We will not support outcomes that would in any way infringe on the Second Amendment."

That's not exactly out of the president's mouth, but it is reassuring.
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Old May 20, 2012, 12:22 PM   #4
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"We will not support outcomes that would in any way infringe on the Second Amendment."

Words are cheap.
Worse, they are disarming (no pun intended).
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Old May 20, 2012, 12:26 PM   #5
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Caution on politics, please. No trouble yet, but you never know.
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Old May 20, 2012, 02:43 PM   #6
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The proposed UN Small Arms Treaty has no effect on US gunowners. A treaty does not trump the US Constitution. So said SCOTUS in Reid vs. Covert.


http://www.constitution.org/ussc/354-001a.htm

Quote:
Article VI, the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, declares:

"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land;... ."

There is nothing in this language which intimates that treaties and laws enacted pursuant to them do not have to comply with the provisions of the Constitution. Nor is there anything in the debates which accompanied the drafting and ratification of the Constitution which even suggests such a result. These debates as well as the history that surrounds the adoption of the treaty provision in Article VI make it clear that the reason treaties were not limited to those made in "pursuance" of the Constitution was so that agreements made by the United States under the Articles of Confederation, including the important peace treaties which concluded the Revolutionary [354 U.S. 1, 17] War, would remain in effect. 31 It would be manifestly contrary to the objectives of those who created the Constitution, as well as those who were responsible for the Bill of Rights — let alone alien to our entire constitutional history and tradition — to construe Article VI as permitting the United States to exercise power under an international agreement without observing constitutional prohibitions. 32 In effect, such construction would permit amendment of that document in a manner not sanctioned by Article V. The prohibitions of the Constitution were designed to apply to all branches of the National Government and they cannot be nullified by the Executive or by the Executive and the Senate combined.

There is nothing new or unique about what we say here. This Court has regularly and uniformly recognized the supremacy of the Constitution over a treaty. 33 For example, in Geofroy v. Riggs, 133 U.S. 258, 267 , it declared:

"The treaty power, as expressed in the Constitution, is in terms unlimited except by those restraints which are found in that instrument against the action of the government or of its departments, and those arising from the nature of the government itself and of that of the States. It would not be contended that it extends so far as to authorize what the Constitution forbids, or a change in the character of the [354 U.S. 1, 18] government or in that of one of the States, or a cession of any portion of the territory of the latter, without its consent."

This Court has also repeatedly taken the position that an Act of Congress, which must comply with the Constitution, is on a full parity with a treaty, and that when a statute which is subsequent in time is inconsistent with a treaty, the statute to the extent of conflict renders the treaty null. 34 It would be completely anomalous to say that a treaty need not comply with the Constitution when such an agreement can be overridden by a statute that must conform to that instrument.

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Old May 20, 2012, 02:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thallub
The proposed UN Small Arms Treaty has no effect on US gunowners. A treaty does not trump the US Constitution. So said SCOTUS in Reid vs. Covert.
That's true -- but it's possible that a future, SCOTUS could reverse that opinion. It's also possible that a future (or present) liberal administration could simply ignore it, and start clamping down while various cases wend their way through the lower courts. Even if the SCOTUS eventually ruled that the UN treaty didn't trump the Constitution -- if all your guns have been melted into inert lumps and the new rules make it impossible (or very difficult) to replace them ... can we say "Pyrrhic victory" class?

Last edited by Glenn E. Meyer; May 20, 2012 at 03:51 PM. Reason: A minor sneaking in of politics cut out
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Old May 20, 2012, 02:59 PM   #8
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One immediate problem I see is that prior to Heller the President took the position that the Second Amendment was a collective right and virtually any federal regulation was allowed. Since Heller, President Obama has appointed at least one Justice to the Supreme Court (possibly two) who takes the position that the 5-4 Heller decision was the wrong decision and that the Second is a collective right.

So relying on the Constitution to mitigate any damage caused by the UN Small Arms Treaty draft this summer may not be the most effective strategy. Having said that, enough Senators have indicated they will not ratify this treaty that even if pro-gun control had sweeping 100% victories in November, they still could not hope to have enough votes to ratify until 2014/2016.
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Old May 20, 2012, 03:08 PM   #9
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Yes, any potential impact on US gun owners would be a long way off and will most likely not come from how elected officials view this and other treaties. However, the real concern for gun owners is unelected officials wearing black robes and how they might one day view the United States obligation to these various treaties.
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Old May 21, 2012, 12:49 PM   #10
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I get two or three e-mails everyday about how Mr. or Mrs. XYTXCZ is going to take away our gun rights via this UN Treaty.

It also seems everyone of them, somewhere in the text, ask me to donate and stop this action immediately. Fundraising at it's best.

Somewhere on TFL is a report on a guy named Dudley Brown who has tried to raise quite a bit of money using this, and other, scare tactics. But when you really get in to the meat and potatoes of these things, the money raised is not used for what you thought it was being used for.

Found it: http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...t=dudley+brown
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Last edited by Uncle Buck; May 21, 2012 at 12:52 PM. Reason: Added a link
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Old May 21, 2012, 08:38 PM   #11
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Various countries around the world have figured out that there really aren't many good laws against gun running. They got Victor Bout, but even that was a problem and took 10 years. You know, he's the Merchant of Death, there was a book and the movie Lord of War. By the late '90s he had his own fleet of more than 60 surplus Russian cargo planes.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11036569

People hear small arms treaty and they don't think small missles and big machine guns.
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Old May 22, 2012, 06:20 AM   #12
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Quote:
It also seems everyone of them, somewhere in the text, ask me to donate and stop this action immediately. Fundraising at it's best.
Bingo!!! Appealing to conspiracy theorists and those who have no idea how the US government works is a big money maker for the gun rights organizations. The latest Rifleman has several "Obama and the UN are going to take your guns" articles.
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Old May 22, 2012, 06:47 AM   #13
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I would say that it is nearly impossible to determine what is going on behind the curtain as this is nearly always a function of politics. Claims by anyone should be looked at with the utmost scrutiny.
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Old May 22, 2012, 08:52 AM   #14
Bartholomew Roberts
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Quote:
People hear small arms treaty and they don't think small missles and big machine guns.
Unfortunately, the early draft proposals of this treaty have treated handguns and shotguns the same as automatic cannon, surface-to-air missiles and attack helicopters.

One thing that we should understand is that this treaty has the potential to represent a serious threat to our Second Amendment rights. In 2012, they will actually make an attempt to draft treaty language where we know what is in it for the first time. At this point though, it is still a remote threat and one that we cannot do a great deal about short of making it clear to our elected representatives that any infringement on the individual right to keep and bear arms is not acceptable.

The good news is there are a number of barriers to this treaty. While the current administration might well view some fairly horrible infringements as not being a Second Amendment problem given their dismissive view of the Second Amendment, they have also supported the treaty on the contingency that it receives unanimous consent. Since the United States and Great Britain already have some of the strictest arms control policies of any nation in the world today, it is unlikely anything that Russia and China (two large arms exporters) would consent to accept since even adopting existing American policies on arms control is beyond them.

The second line of defense is that an overwhelming bipartisan 2/3 majority of Senators have indicated that they would not ratify any treaty that violated the Second Amendment and have signed their names to a letter pledging that. Even if you allow some wiggle room for how they interpret the Second Amendment, that is still a significant hurdle to overcome - the CIFTA Treaty was already signed in the 1990s and is very bad for both the Second Amendment and First Amendment. Even when ratifying it was one of the top priorities of the Obama Administration, the Democratic majority Senate took no action on it, which suggests to me that the Senate is unlikely to receive a UN Treaty that infringes on the Second Amendment any better.
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Old May 22, 2012, 12:12 PM   #15
thallub
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Quote:
Unfortunately, the early draft proposals of this treaty have treated handguns and shotguns the same as automatic cannon, surface-to-air missiles and attack helicopters.

Show me.

See:

United Nations A /C.1/64/L.38/Rev.1 General Assembly:

Quote:
Acknowledging also the right of States to regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership, including through national constitutional protections on private ownership, exclusively within their territory,
Google up the legal principle of Stare Decisis
Stare Decisis is the reason Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land 39 years later.
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Old May 22, 2012, 02:25 PM   #16
Bartholomew Roberts
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thallub
Show me.
"“small arms and light weapons” mean any man-portable lethal weapon that expels or launches, is designed to expel or launch, or may be readily converted to expel or launch a shot, bullet or projectile by the action of an explosive.

“Small arms” are, broadly speaking, weapons designed for individual use. They include, inter alia, revolvers and self-loading pistols, rifles and carbines, sub-machine guns, assault rifles and light machine guns.

“Light weapons” are, broadly speaking, weapons designed for use by two or three persons serving as a crew, although some may be carried and used by a single person. They include, inter alia, heavy machine guns, hand-held under-barrel and mounted grenade launchers, portable anti-aircraft guns, portable anti-tank guns, recoilless rifles, portable launchers of anti-tank missile and rocket systems, portable launchers of anti-aircraft missile systems, and mortars of a caliber of less than 100 millimetres."

Source: International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons (A/60/88), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 8 December 2005

Under this document, an M240 general purpose machine gun and an 1873 Colt Peacemaker revolver are both small arms subject to the same proposed regulations.

Quote:
See:

United Nations A /C.1/64/L.38/Rev.1 General Assembly:
As you are already aware, since we have had this conversation several times before, the document you are quoting is not a binding document; but rather a draft resolution approved by the General Assembly. Here is how the UN characterized the same document you refer to:

"Draft resolution XX, on arms trade treaty (document A/C.1/64/L.38/Rev.1), would have the Assembly, acknowledging the right of all States to manufacture, import, export, transfer and retain conventional arms for self-defence and security needs (BR Note: Self-defence as used here means "defense of the state", not an individual right) and in order to participate in peace support operations, call upon States to implement on a national basis the relevant recommendations contained in section VII of the Secretary-General’s report and command all States to carefully consider how to achieve such implementation to ensure their national import and export control systems have the highest possible standards.

By further terms, the Assembly would stress the need to address the problems relating to unregulated trade in conventional weapons and their diversion to the illicit market, considering that such risks can fuel instability, and transnational organized crime and terrorism, and that international action should be taken to address the problem. The Assembly would also decide to convene a United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty to meet for four consecutive weeks in 2012 to elaborate a legally binding instrument on the highest possible common international standards for the transfer of conventional arms."

There is a great deal in that draft resolution that is not at all in keeping with the idea of the Second Amendment, your one sentence notwithstanding.

Quote:
Google up the legal principle of Stare Decisis
They still cover that in law school, so I didn't have to Google it. Stare Decisis isn't a guarantee; but rather a general principle. Given that 3 (Breyer, Sotomayor and Ginsburg) out of the current 9 Justices on the Supreme Court have already publically stated that Heller should be overturned without regard to Stare Decisis, it is a bad defense to hang your hat on.

Quote:
Stare Decisis is the reason Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land 39 years later.
You should read some of the "Behind the Scenes" stories on Planned Parenthood v. Casey and see how close Roe v. Wade came to being completely overturned as opposed to "clairified" to get an idea of how weak of a defense Stare Decisis can be.

For that matter, you should be aware of the Supreme Court's tendency to "clarify" decisions in ways that have the effect of overturning previous law without actually violating the principle of stare decisis (see for example, the Slaughterhouse cases and the principle of selective incorporation).

Is there any more research I can do for you today, Thallub?

Last edited by Bartholomew Roberts; May 22, 2012 at 02:37 PM.
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Old May 23, 2012, 08:08 AM   #17
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"Acknowledging also the right of States to regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership, including through national constitutional protections on private ownership, exclusively within their territory, "

Uh, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the U.S. federal government already regulates internal transfers of arms.
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Old May 23, 2012, 08:56 AM   #18
thallub
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Uh, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the U.S. federal government already regulates internal transfers of arms.
In international terms the term "state" means independent country.
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Old May 26, 2012, 01:10 PM   #19
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Deleted by thallub.

Last edited by thallub; May 26, 2012 at 01:23 PM.
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