Finally, United States Signs Global Arms Trade Treaty

Written by Hayes Brown

The United States on Wednesday finally added its name to the signatories of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), a step sure to please human rights activists and enrage Republicans.

Secretary of State John Kerry signed the treaty on behalf of the United States on Wednesday, making the U.S. the 91st country to do so. “I signed it because President Obama knows that from decades of efforts that anytime we work with — cooperatively to address the illicit trade in conventional weapons, we make the world a safer place,” Kerry said. “And this treaty is a significant step in that effort.”

The legal arms trade, comprised of both the import and export weapons, constitutes around $70 billion annually. Attack helicopters, tanks and other larger arms are covered under the treaty, as well as small arms and ammunition for these weapons. Under theterms of the treaty, states are required to determine whether the shipment of arms to a second country would be used to commit atrocities or violate human rights or if they could be diverted for such a purpose, and report back to the U.N. Secretariat on their efforts.

Counter to worries that the ATT will constitute an infringement of the Second Amendment in the United States, the American Bar Association has concluded that Americans needn’t fear such an outcome. As the ABA points out in theirwhite paper, import restrictions on firearms have been ruled constitutionally valid. At present, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms alreadyregulates and tracks the import of firearms into the United States, leaving no need for further domestic legislation regarding the ATT’s implementation. Exports of firearms, the ABA also notes, are not protected under the Second Amendment.

“This treaty will not diminish anyone’s freedom,” Kerry said. “In fact the treaty recognizes the ability of both individuals and states to obtain, possess, and use arms for legit purposes. Make no mistake, we would never think about supporting a treaty that is inconsistent with the rights of Americans, the rights of American citizens, to be able to exercise their guaranteed rights under our Constitution.”

The U.S.voted in favor of the treaty in April, as did the vast majority of the world. In fact, only Syria, Iran and North Koreavoted against it.

Activists have been urging President Obama to sign the Arms Trade Treaty for months now. At the end of a meeting with Obama administration officials in August, members of a coalition of activists ranging from religious evangelicals to arms control advocatespassed along a letter to the President, urging swift action on the ATT. “Your Administration demonstrated leadership by supporting the Treaty through its development,” the letter read. “Signing the Arms Trade Treaty will demonstrate strong US leadership and help create important momentum for the treaty.”

Conservativeshave been insisting, absent real evidence, that the ATT will kick the U.S. down aslippery slope towards mass gun confiscation. The National Rifle Association never fans of the treaty has been fundraising based on that premise, urging its members to write to their senators to vote against the treaty. For the treaty to be ratified, two-thirds of the Senate will have to vote in favor of it, giving the ATT slim prospects in the face of virulent GOP opposition.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


Jim Ven
Jim V1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill4 years ago

This is the beginning of the loss of our freedoms

Lynn C.
Lynn C4 years ago

So....think this will stop the US from starting anymore wars??

Beth C.
Beth Crader4 years ago

WE should not be selling arms to the terrorists in others countries to use against our soldiers in Afghanistan and other places where they are stationed.

Cathleen K.
Cathleen K4 years ago

As my cousin in law who works at Remington said "There goes our internet sales to Somalia!". THAT is what the opposition from the NRA to this treaty is about, gun huggers. It's got nothing to do with the US, but feel free to press your senators to make arms sales to war lords and terrorists in the Middle East safe for American gun and ammo makers. What patriots you are, arming the other side in the War on Terror. Morons.

Jane H.
Jane H4 years ago

well, good!

Joshua Brown
Joshua Brown4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Lori Ann Hone
Lori Hone4 years ago

It's aabout time

Elsa G.
Else G4 years ago

Steven B is right half of you nitwits don't seem to be able to read correctly. This is an international arms treaty. It has nothing to do with your personal rights to own guns. You will still be able to go to your neighbor hood gun dealer and buy as many as your heart desires.

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla4 years ago

I hope it means something positive...