The treaty’s negotiations will come after President Obama has vowed to take action in the wake of the Newton shootings and as gun-control advocates are pressing for a renewal of the U.S. assault weapons ban and other new measures. The United States supported Monday’s vote to restart treaty negotiations in March.
A fight over the U.N. arms treaty could open up a second front between the Obama administration and the NRA, which has found itself at the center of a renewed U.S. debate over gun control in the wake of the Dec. 14 Newtown massacre, in which 26 people, including 20 children, were killed.
The NRA and opponents of the U.N. arms treaty say that it could infringe on the U.S. right to bear arms, arguing the treaty could restrict U.S. citizens’ ability to purchase or possess firearms or ammunition.
But treaty supporters argue that covering civilian arms in the treaty is an important step to keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists, and that the Second Amendment concerns have no merit.
They argue that the treaty would bring much of the world in line with U.S. standards without affecting rules governing domestic sales, and that removing civilian arms language would essentially gut the treaty.
The George W. Bush administration opposed the treaty when it was first brought up in the U.N., but the Obama administration reversed the U.S. position and came out in favor.
Ratification of the treaty would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate, which could be an uphill battle for the Obama administration. In July, Sen. Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranIt's time for Congress to act before slow mail turns into no mail Kaine says he has votes to pass Iraq War repeal in Senate Seven-figure ad campaign urges GOP to support infrastructure bill MORE (R-Kan.) released a letter with 50 senators — including eight Democrats — signaling their opposition to the arms treaty.
"This treaty is as problematic today in terms of ratification in the Senate as it was six months ago or a year ago," Keene told Reuters Thursday.
In a speech last July, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre said there could be no compromise on the treaty without removing civilian arms.
“No foreign influence has jurisdiction over the freedoms our Founding Fathers guaranteed to us,” he said. “The only way to address NRA's objections is to simply and completely remove civilian firearms from the scope of the treaty. That is the only solution. On that, there will be no compromise.”