If an anticipated international arms trade treaty is ratified by the United Nations this week, what do you think the impact would be on the average American sportsman and gun owner?
There’s been a lot of writing and rhetoric regarding the negotiations that have taken place during the last three weeks, as world leaders attempt to craft international rules covering the worldwide weapons trade.
Details of the proposed treaty—and the weapons affected—have not yet been made public. In fact, it remains uncertain if the voting nations will ratify a final document at all.
But in the interim, some Americans—including North American Hunter's Mark Kayser—are raising concerns over a potential “gun grab” and threats to the sanctity of the Second Amendment should a treaty become ratified.
By law, any treaty involving the United States must be ratified by a two-thirds majority of the U.S. Senate. And 58 senators have already said they would vote against any proposed treaty that involves civilian arms.
Further, constitutional experts agree that the protection afforded to Americans by the Second Amendment—and the entire U.S. Constitution for that matter—will trump anything the U.N. could conjure up.
Case law makes it “pretty clear” that a treaty can't violate the Constitution, Jules Lobel, a constitutional law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, told the Tribune-Review.
“This treaty is designed to regulate arms exports,” he said. “The Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to purchase a gun domestically.”
And then there’s the political component.
“It’s an election year,” said Sanford V. Levinson, constitutional law professor at the University of Texas in Austin. “The political constraints are far more important than the constitutional questions.” Any treaty, according to Levinson, would be unenforceable.
That’s not to say a U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (UNATT), especially one involving small arms, wouldn’t be a potentially enormous burden for U.S. gun manufacturers, ammunition companies, exporters, importers and, yes, for the end-user—the American sportsman and gun owner—it most definitely could be.
But between a U.N. treaty and the Constitution of the United States, which basket would you put all your eggs in?