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Old May 20, 2010, 08:32 AM   #1
Bartholomew Roberts
Senior Member
Join Date: June 12, 2000
Location: Texas and Oklahoma area
Posts: 6,776
Arms Treaties and Second Amendment Problems

With all the "UN Treaty" threads circulating these days, I thought it might be worthwhile to point out a more relevant threat to Second Amendment rights via international treaties.

The Heritage Foundation has an interesting article on the 1997 CIFTA Treaty.

A little background, in 1997, then President Bill Clinton signed a treaty sponsored by the Organizaion of American States. It is a small arms control treaty that is known by its Spanish acronym - CIFTA. However, neither President Clinton nor President Bush ever presented the treaty to the Senate for ratification. Recently, President Obama has called on the Senate to ratify the CIFTA treaty and has made it one of its 17 "priority" treaties in 2009 (where it went nowhere due to other legislative battles and NRA opposition).

Recent Obama appointee Harold Koh not only expressed support for the treaty, he has also argued for it as a basis for domestic regulation and suggested that reservations from it lack legal validity (a "reservation" in international treaty is basically the equivalent of "Well, we're not going to do that part of the treaty)

The Heritage Foundation in the link above discuss the possible effects of the treaty on your First and Second Amendment rights (the treaty criminalizes some forms of speech as well) and the impact of Heller and other Supreme Court decisions on the treaty.

Some important things from the treaty:

1. Mandatory creation of a domestic small arms licensing system
2. Broadens the definition of "manufacture" to include things like assembling an AR15 upper, switching uppers, reloading ammunition, etc.
3. Prohibits police departments or military from selling surplus small arms equipment to civilians
4. Broadens the range of firearms related accessories that require an import/export license (no more sending slings or magazines to your buddy in Iraq)
5. Model legislation proposed by OAS calls for gun and ammunition registry
6. Extends record keeping time to 30 years and calls for signatory nations to share such information between themselves.
7. Attempts to criminalize "counseling" others to arm themselves or in other ways violate the treaty.
8. Could potentially create private rights in anti-gun foundations to sue the United States under this convention.

To the best of my knowledge, the Senate has not yet taken up President Obama on this issue and there appears to be little likelihood that they will with Sen. Harry Reid as majority leader. It also appears that there are not the 2/3 votes necessary to ratify such a controversial treaty, let alone to start enacting even a fraction of the laws it proposes. The Heritage Foundation link acknowledges this as well and argues that the real purpose in ratifying the treaty is to create additional pressure for gun control by arguing that the U.S. is not living up to its international treaty obligations. It would also give administrative agencies a big license to "reinterpret" existing regulations in light of the obligations created by the treaty.

However, the Heritage Foundation link is a good discussion on the subject and it might be worth a mention the next time you write your Senator.

Here is the previous TFL discussion on the subject:

Last edited by Al Norris; May 20, 2010 at 08:34 PM. Reason: Title Change for the Sticky
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