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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid