Gun group launches campaign to prevent vote on arms treaty

A national gun rights group with ties to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has launched an all-out campaign to block a Senate vote ratifying an international arms trade treaty.

The National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) says the treaty would force federal authorities to keep a national registry of gun owners in the country and is one step closer to the government coming to confiscate firearms from lawful Americans.

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“And it’s not just our federal government that would get a copy [of the registry],” NAGR vice president Dudley Brown wrote to members in a recent email.

“International bureaucrats at the United Nations and foreign governments would have access to the registry as well!” he wrote. “You and I both know registration is the first step toward outright confiscation.”

The group has begun pressing gun owners and advocates to “swamp” and “overwhelm” their senators with “millions” of petitions opposing the treaty that it plans on delivering to the upper chamber.

A majority of the upper chamber has voiced opposition to the Arms Trade Treaty, which the U.S. — along with an overwhelming number of other United Nation member states — voted to approve last month.

The treaty, which does not yet have an enforcement mechanism, is an attempt to regulate the highly lucrative international conventional arms business by barring the sale of weapons if they are intended to carry out human rights abuses or acts of terrorism.

The Obama administration supports the treaty and argues it will not restrain domestic gun sales but will require the rest of the world to adopt America's already strong export controls on firearms.

Supporters of the treaty argue it would help keep guns from dangerous foreign regimes and could save tens of thousands of lives.

The NAGR, which has garnered the powerful fundraising support of Paul recently, specifically objects to two articles within the treaty.

The first article states: “Each state party shall establish and maintain a national control system, including a national control list, in order to implement the provisions of this treaty.”

The second article it opposes requires member states to maintain national records “pursuant to its national laws and regulations” of its export, import, and transfer of firearms.

Those records must include the “quantity, value, model/type” of the arms, as well as a list of the “conventional arms actually transferred, details of exporting state(s), importing state(s), transit and trans-shipment state(s), and end users, as appropriate,” according to the treaty.

The NAGR sees the two articles as holding the potential to create a national database containing every gun owner's information.

It has tried to spur its membership to action with threats that the government could use such a database to confiscate weapons if it wanted — a direct infringement of the Second Amendment, they say.

But the treaty explicitly details that the registry requirement it imposes would have to meet a country's specific legal and statutory restrictions, which has led the Obama administration to adamantly defend the treaty, saying that it does not infringe on Second Amendment rights.

Leading groups in favor of more gun control within the United States have yet to take a position on the controversial issue.

U.S. adoption of the treaty is unlikely.

A two-thirds majority vote in the Senate is needed to ratify the treaty, which will first head to President Obama on June 3 for his signature.

In March, the Senate voted to pass an amendment to a budget deal that would prevent the United States from entering into the treaty. And more than 50 senators signed a petition earlier this year opposing the treaty.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) also opposes the treaty and has lobbied hard against it.


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