Secretary of State John Kerry signed the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty on Wednesday, lending U.S. support to an effort aimed at slowing the flow of arms across international borders and into the hands of the kind of people who this week turned a shopping mall in Kenya into a killing field.
The UN treaty is a step in what will be a long slog around obstacles lined up all along the way all around the globe. In the U.S., Kerry’s signature has generated some relief and optimism on the part of human rights champions. It’s also already great fuel for the fundraising efforts of the gun-right groups that have been sounding alarms about the treaty for years.
The UN Arms Trade Treaty takes aim at large military weapons, like tanks and missile launchers, but it also covers small arms. Gun rights groups have convinced their members and large swaths of conservative voters that the small arms provisions of the treaty can be used to curb U.S. gun ownership and to force gun owners to enter their names into an international registry, from which they would be monitored by world government bureaucrats unaccountable to U.S. voters — and unintimidated by the gun-rights lobby, which is the part communicated without ever being articulated.
So today, residents of Colorado and other western states are being delivered messages like this one from Western Representation Political Action Committee, warning of coming “national control lists” and “liberal anti-gun extremists” bent on creating a “national gun registry” and assuring readers that donations will go toward supporting “constitutionally conservative” political candidates.
The anti-UN Arms Treaty theories have been building for a decade. Credible media outlets have repeatedly dismissed them as unsupported. This spring, the American Bar Association released a report explaining that the treaty does not compromise gun-ownership rights in the United States.
As long as the treaty exists in any form, no matter how well it succeeds or how badly it fails, it will fuel gun-rights fundraising letters.[ Top image by Hdptcar ]