US pushes arms trade treaty opposed by gun lobby for UN vote

The Obama administration has formally cosponsored an arms trade treaty opposed by the U.S. gun lobby as the United Nations prepares to vote on the measure.

The treaty was delayed last week after the U.N. panel debating the proposal failed to reach consensus on measures to impose tougher export restrictions on the $70 billion-a-year arms trade. More than 100 countries, including the United States, cosponsored the treaty on Monday and are pressing for a vote by the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.

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The National Rifle Association opposes the treaty because it would regulate small arms. The administration and the treaty's advocates, however, say it would not impact domestic arms sales but only require treaty signatories with lax export restrictions to adopt tighter regulations more in line with existing U.S. requirements.

The United States and other treaty co-sponsors are asking for the treaty to be open for signatures starting June 3.

A majority of U.S. senators oppose the treaty and have said they would oppose ratification if Obama signs on. 

In one of the amendment votes to the Senate Budget last month, lawmakers voted 53 to 46 to stop the United States from joining the treaty.