Obama administration caves to gun lobby on Arms Trade Treaty
After a month of painstaking negotiations on a treaty to stem the flow of deadly conventional weapons, the Arms Trade Treaty is put off indefinitely. In a move that Amnesty International labeled “stunning cowardice,” the US and other countries pushed for more time for negotiations beyond the July 27th deadline.
It’s no secret why the US balked at a common sense treaty to regulate the $60 billion global arms trade. The San Francisco Chronicle lays it out in an editorial entitled “NRA wins one for worldwide gun trade”:
When a global treaty to limit shady weapons sales gets swept up in the gun-control debate, it’s clear that this country has a problem. A bloc of U.S. senators, chiefly Republicans with a sprinkling of Democrats, has managed to derail a U.N. treaty to restrict weapons sales between countries.
The reasoning is spurious and shameful, a political play on distrust of the United Nations and unfounded fears about a loss of domestic gun rights. But the threat was enough to lead the Obama White House to pull back on final-day treaty deliberations. The decision kicks talks past the November presidential vote…
…The result is a failure on the arms control front. But it’s also a cave-in to the unreasonable and antagonistic gun lobby. President Obama is ducking a fight – one he believes he can’t afford in a close election – and handing a win to his foes.
The New York Times engaged in a bit of dubious he said/she said journalism on the topic of the treaty and its relation to gun rights in the US (emphasis mine):
Treaty supporters, led by activist groups such as Amnesty International and Oxfam America, expressed anger at the failure after early bouts of optimism that a draft of the treaty circulated this week would satisfy American concerns, notably its possible infringement on the Second Amendment right to bear arms — an especially delicate issue during a presidential election year in the United States.
The supporters contended the treaty’s language specified that it would have no impact on such rights. But gun rights groups like the National Rifle Association said the treaty remained “seriously flawed.”
Supporters of the treaty don’t contend that the language specifies this. The language does clearly specify this. The NRA’s wildly inaccurate take on the Arms Trade Treaty has been debunked. Their allies in the House and Senate are playing politics with people’s lives, convincing supporters that the UN is about to bust down their doors and confiscate their guns. Now the Obama administration has handed them a victory, allowing them to crow (see the above graphic from their website), stating, “this is a big victory for American gun owners, and the NRA is being widely credited for killing the U.N. ATT.”
The NRA isn’t resting on its laurels. They know proponents of the ATT will keep pushing and vow to keep up their work to tank the treaty. That means we need to be even louder and more persistent in our support of a bulletproof treaty that will save lives.