When President Obama was re-elected, the panic over the President’s desire to reinstate an Assault Weapons Ban was both predictable and swift. While I have said many times that I don’t think an Assault Weapons Ban has any chance of passing in the current political climate, I have also said that gun control via UN Treat or Executive Order is possible.
Well yesterday, a story broke on Reuters and elsewhere that confirmed what many of us have feared – the Obama administration is resuming debate on an international small arms treaty.
[blockquote]Hours after U.S. President Barack Obama was re-elected, the United States backed a U.N. committee’s call on Wednesday to renew debate over a draft international treaty to regulate the $60 billion global arms trade.[/blockquote]
What Does This Mean?
At this point we don’t know for sure, as the negotiations haven’t resumed yet, but we can at examine some of the legalities if such a treaty were signed by the President.
Ratification, in simple terms and as it applies to this discussion, is the act of approval performed by our Senate before a treaty becomes binding. The President canÂ form and negotiate a treaty, but then the treaty must be approved by a two-thirds vote in the Senate.
So on the surface, the President can sign whatever treaties he wants, but without 2/3 of the Senate in his corner, it’s non-binding. Or is it?
Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties
First off, let me say that I am not a lawyer, and this topic goes a bit deeper into international law than I am accustomed to. To that end, I am consulting with some folks who are lawyers, and I’m trying to find someone who is an expert on international law specifically to get more pertinent information. So if that’s you, please let me know, I’d love to interview you on this topic.
What is it?
TheÂ Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties is a treaty concerning the international law on treaties between states (that is, member states, or countries). The United States is a signatory to this treaty. This means that theÂ United StatesÂ signed the treaty (signed by Richard NixonÂ on April 24, 1970) but that the treaty has not been ratified by our Senate.
So why is this important? Well it may not be, but there have been grumblings that because of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties that the United States would be bound by a treaty signed by its representativeÂ until the treaty is approved or disapproved by the Senate. Hit the link for a more in-depth discussion, and put me in the “I have no idea but I’m researching it” column.
UN Treaty and the Second Amendment
That’s all well and good, but what about the Second Amendment? This is where it gets tricky. Under the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution, treaties are “the supreme law of the land”. If a treaty contradicted the Second Amendment, undoubtedly the Supreme Court would have to get involved, and how that would all play is anyone’s guess.
My purpose in this post is to simply raise awareness. I don’t know what a UN Small Arms Treaty would mean for US citizens, but I feel pretty safe in asserting that it wouldn’t be a good thing. My feeling is that such a treaty would simply make importing guns and ammunition harder and more expensive, but it could also be far worse.
This is what I meant when I said we must remain vigilant. It’s clear that an all out assault of the few liberties we have remaining has begun.