By Jeremy Herb
The U.N.’s 193 members have until Friday to reach an agreement to the treaty to regulate weapons exports. A first draft released Tuesday angered advocacy groups who want the treaty’s provisions strengthened before the treaty is finalized.
“Today, the Senate sends a powerful message to the Obama Administration: an Arms Trade Treaty that does not protect ownership of civilian firearms will fail in the Senate,” Moran writes. “Our firearm freedoms are not negotiable.”
Moran’s letter is signed by all but four Republicans, and eight Democrats are also on board.
The Republicans not on the letter are Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Richard Lugar (Ind.), Scott Brown (Mass.) and Mark Kirk (Ill.).
When asked about not being on Moran’s letter, McCain, Lugar and Brown all told The Hill they were not familiar with Moran’s letter opposing the treaty. Kirk has been away from the Senate after suffering a stroke.
While not signing on with Moran’s letter does not mean the senators won’t eventually oppose the treaty — as the details have not been finalized yet — the NRA could try to make it a political problem for senators on the fence.
The CEO of the powerful gun lobby, Wayne LaPierre, said in his speech at the arms treaty conference that 58 senators were lined up to oppose the treaty, based on a Senate letter from 2011.
If the 51 senators on Moran’s letter remain opposed to the treaty’s final language, it will effectively kill any chance of ratification, which would need a two-thirds vote.
Supporters of the treaty have argued that the Second Amendment concerns being raised are invalid, because the Constitution would already trump any international law.
They argue that the treaty would bring much of the world in line with U.S. standards without affecting laws that govern domestic sales, and that removing civilian arms from the treaty would leave it gutted.
The Bush administration was opposed to the treaty, but the Obama administration reversed the U.S. position and signed onto the effort.