The purpose of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty is to keep conventional arms — from pistols to tanks — from falling into the wrong hands.
While the U.S. has signed the treaty, the Senate still needs to ratify it. Meeting with representatives of gun rights and hunting organizations at Bass Pro Shops in Pearland, Sen. Cornyn says the Arms Trade Treaty violates the Second Amendment.
“What we learned today is that a number of manufacturers of very popular shotguns and other firearms would simply refuse to sell their product in the United States and that would deny consumers in Texas and this country the opportunity to buy those and use them for self-defense or for sporting purposes.”
Cornyn says he rejects the idea of the United Nations forcing the U.S. to abide by laws created by countries that don’t share America’s history of individual rights and freedoms.
“A treaty is an international obligation that trumps the domestic laws of a country. So that’s the real threat here, is obviously the Constitution is the fundamental law of American and of our land, but if for some reason this treaty should be signed and then ratified by 67 senators, then it trumps American law.”
He says the United Nations is trying to diminish the sovereignty of the United States.
As is, the Arms Trade Treaty has no direct effect on domestic weapons trade or individuals’ right to bear arms. But Josh Blackman, professor at South Texas College of Law, says the concern by many isn’t so much the Arms Trade Treaty itself but what may come after.
“If the U.S. were to join this treaty and the U.N. passed various rules that limit the ownership of private arms, the U.S. would have to enforce it. And in theory, the United States Congress could pass rules pursuant to this treaty that would limit the right to bear arms among American citizens. … The easiest example is if the U.N. passed a rule saying that the private ownership of firearms not related to military usage is illegal and the United States Congress could pass a rule pursuant to that.”
It’s not likely that the Senate will have the necessary two-thirds majority to ratify the treaty, but Cornyn says he’s considering asking Secretary Kerry to withdraw his signature of the treaty.
“There’s nothing to prohibit the administration – President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry – from bringing it back again and again. And as you know sometimes, when there’s other distractions, sometimes things happen and get voted on that otherwise wouldn’t pass.”
So far, 114 nations have signed the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, and eight have ratified it.