A United Nations treaty on the trade of conventional arms could give enemies of the U.S. access to the records of American gun owners, say critics. (AP)
UNITED NATIONS – A treaty being hammered out this month at the United Nations -- with Iran playing a key role -- could expose the records of America's gun owners to foreign governments -- and, critics warn, eventually put the Second Amendment on global trial.
International talks in New York are going on throughout July on the final wording of the so-called Arms Trade Treaty, which supporters such as Amnesty International USA say would rein in unregulated weapons that kill an estimated 1,500 people daily around the world. But critics, including the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre, warn the treaty would mark a major step toward the eventual erosion of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment gun-ownership rights.
Americans “just don’t want the UN to be acting as a global nanny with a global permission slip stating whether they can own a gun or not,” LaPierre said. “It cheapens our rights as American citizens, and weakens our sovereignty,” he warned in an exclusive interview with FoxNews.com from the halls of the UN negotiating chambers.
“It cheapens our rights as American citizens, and weakens our sovereignty.”
- Wayne LaPierre, National Rifle Association
The world body has already been criticized for appointing Iran to a key role in the talks, even as Tehran stands accused by the UN of arming Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's bloody crackdown on rebels. The Obama administration in 2009 reversed Bush administration policy by agreeing to take part in the talks. But in another exclusive interview with FoxNews.com, the top government official on the issue under President Bush says he’s seen nothing new to convince him the U.S. should be at the table today.
While the treaty’s details are still under discussion, the document could straitjacket U.S. foreign policy to the point where Washington could be restricted from helping arm friends such as Taiwan and Israel, said Greg Suchan, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs from 2000 to 2007.
Suchan also highlighted ongoing concern that the treaty may end up giving foreigners access to U.S. gun-ownership records.
On that score, LaPierre, who serves as NRA executive vice president, warns that the “UN’s refusal” to remove civilian firearms and ammunition from the scope of the treaty amounts to a declaration that only governments should be gun owners.
But he revealed he was set Wednesday to tell the UN gathering that 58 U.S. senators had signed a letter saying that they would refuse to ratify any treaty that includes controls over civilian guns or ammunition.
Ratification by two-thirds of the Senate is necessary before an international treaty negotiated by the executive branch can become U.S. law. But the treaty could still go into effect elsewhere once 65 countries ratify it. Such a development could change the pattern of world arms transfers and reduce the U.S. share, which stands at about 40 percent of up to $60 billion in global deals.