News / USA

US Gun Lobby Targets International Arms Treaty

The National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre (2012 photo)The National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre (2012 photo)
x
The National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre (2012 photo)
The National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre (2012 photo)
The U.S. Senate recently rejected measures that would expand background checks on potential gun buyers, renew and strengthen a ban on military-style assault weapons and limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds. The National Rifle Association - a powerful gun lobby group - is widely credited for helping defeat the measures. The organization is now expected to work against Senate ratification of an international treaty regulating trade in conventional weapons.

The Senate action defeating the gun control measures came four months after a gunman fatally shot 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut and was seen as a major defeat for President Barack Obama and gun control advocates.

Following the vote, President Obama did not mince his words.

“The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill. They claimed that it would create some sort of ‘big brother’ gun registry, even though the bill did the opposite. This legislation, in fact, outlawed any registry. Plain and simple, right there in the text,” said Obama. “But that didn’t matter. And unfortunately, this pattern of spreading untruths about this legislation served a purpose, because those lies upset an intense minority of gun owners, and that in turn intimidated a lot of senators.”

Obama said it was a “pretty shameful day for Washington.”

Earlier this month, the United Nations by a vote of 154 to three with 23 abstentions overwhelmingly approved a landmark treaty regulating trade in conventional weapons - from battle tanks and warships to small arms and light weapons. Only Syria, Iran and North Korea voted against the pact.

The National Rifle Association is also opposed to the treaty.

Martin Butcher, an arms policy adviser with Oxfam, the international humanitarian organization, said “If I were the National Rifle Association, I wouldn’t want to be standing with Iran, Syria and North Korea on this - and that’s where they are.”

The National Rifle Association argues that the Arms Trade Treaty infringes on the rights of Americans to bear arms under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It is part of the Bill of Rights guaranteeing individual freedoms.

NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre made that point during a speech to the treaty conference last July.

“Without apology, the NRA wants no part of any treaty that infringes on the precious right of lawful Americans to keep and bear arms,” said LaPierre. “Let there be no confusion. Any treaty that includes civilian firearms ownership in its scope will be met with the NRA’s greatest force of opposition.”

But Daryl Kimball, head of the Arms Control Association, an independent research organization, said the NRA’s charge that the treaty limits domestic gun ownership rights is simply false.

“The National Rifle Association is demagoguing the arms trade treaty. They are trying to scare their members into thinking that this treaty is a problem for domestic gun ownership when it is not,” said Kimball. “And what that does is it enables the NRA to raise money and to be able to claim that they are somehow protecting domestic gun ownership rights.”

The treaty will be open for signature beginning in early June and will become part of international law once 50 countries ratify it.

President Obama is expected to sign it. But John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, said Senate ratification of the treaty will be a difficult task.

“I think it has almost no chance of passing. We have already seen resolutions in the Senate where a majority of senators have disapproved of the treaty, even before they had the language,” said Bolton. “And of course under the U.S. Constitution, treaty ratification requires two-thirds of the senators present and voting to approve. So if advocates of the treaty don’t even have a majority, obviously there is simply no chance, I think, that this treaty will be ratified.”

Martin Butcher with Oxfam said many of the senators who expressed their disapproval of the treaty “were misled by the NRA.”

“It will be a process of educating them what the treaty is actually about, how it will actually work, and the fact that this is intended to help populations in conflict affected areas, in Africa and elsewhere, and nothing to do with the United States," he said. "I’m sure that will reduce opposition to the treaty in the Senate.”

Analysts also said the National Rifle Association will make sure that its opposition to the treaty is well-known in the Senate chambers.

Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More