President Trump Must Aggressively Oppose U.N. Gun Control Agenda

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Is it time for the United States to walk away from the United Nations’ anti-firearm agenda?

Just last week in an appearance before a House subcommittee, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, defended President Trump’s proposed 40% reduction in our annual contribution to that international bureaucracy.  In her testimony, Haley described the reaction by the U.N. to the proposed cut, as “shocked.”  The testimony drew the usual “the-sky-is-falling” response from Democrats and liberal Republican House members who year after year vote to continue America’s $3.3 billion-plus commitment.  

For anyone familiar with the bloated and costly U.N. bureaucracy headquartered in New York City, however, there are myriad justifications for a cut-back such as Trump has proposed:  the many scandals surrounding the U.N.’s “peace keeping” operations; the  duplication of functions among its numerous agencies and offices; documented mismanagement, fraud and outright corruption throughout the organization; excessively high salaries and benefits for its staff; and diplomatic immunity that insulates its employees from accountability.

To the laundry list of reasons that more than justifies a substantial cut in the billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars donated each year to the U.N., should be added the millions spent over the past two decades by the U.N. to fund its gun-control agenda.  Despite there being nothing in the Charter of the United Nations that would remotely provide a basis for the organization to involve itself in control of firearms as owned and used by millions of American citizens and individuals in other countries, the General Assembly has been engaged in just such an effort since the mid-1990s.

The ability of the United Nations to define for itself a function – in this case, regulation of the international trafficking in “small arms and light weapons” (a term which encompasses virtually all handguns, shotguns, and rifles in use by individuals in the United States and elsewhere) — and then keep that mission alive for decades, is legendary.  The Obama Administration, which shared the U.N. General Assembly’s anti-firearms philosophy, in 2013 actually signed a treaty – the Arms Trade Treaty or “ATT” – committing the United States to take steps furthering the international regulation of firearms that would, over time, impact domestic firearms policies in contravention of the Second Amendment.

The United States Senate, currently in GOP hands, is on record firmly opposed to ratifying the ATT, notwithstanding former Secretary of State John Kerry’s signature affixed thereto.  However, the treaty once signed commits our country to take no actions inconsistent with the treaty’s terms or its underlying components; including numerous provisions that reflect drastic gun control measures.

Insofar as gun-control advocates embedded within bureaucracies such as the State Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”), could quietly take steps to reflect those anti-gun provisions in the ATT, there is a strong case to be made that the Trump Administration should officially “unsign” the ATT (in the same way that President George W. Bush unsigned the treaty committing the U.S. to the International Criminal Court, that his predecessor Bill Clinton had signed).  This could be accomplished quickly and easily and would signal clearly to the United Nations that the United States will have nothing to do with the ATT or its pronounced gun control provisions.

There is, however, much more that needs to be done to derail the U.N.’s multi-faceted and continuing effort to involve itself in gun control here and around the globe.  For example, the European Union (“EU”) currently is moving forward with measures to limit magazine capacity for semi-auto handguns and rifles with detachable magazines marketed to or in its member nations.  The EU also is pressing to require firearms sold to any EU country to have every component of every firearm marked and included in a database – posing major problems and costs for U.S.-manufactured firearms marketed in those countries.

It is not only EU countries that are riding the U.N.’s gun control bandwagon.  For example, numerous U.N. member states outside and in addition to those in Europe continue to press for manufacturers of ammunition to have every round marked, a process that is utterly impractical and would be hugely expensive.  

This but touches the tip of the international gun-control “iceberg.” Several conferences to consider these and other U.N.-backed measures are scheduled to take place later this summer and into the Fall.  Trump’s much-repeated pro-Second Amendment stance needs to be reflected in unsigning the ATT, and in aggressively drawing attention to and fighting these international gun control measures through vetoes and limits on their funding.

John Bolton, as Under Secretary of State back in 2001, sent “shockwaves” through the U.N. General Assembly, when he put that body on notice that the United States would not tolerate any measure that would in any way infringe on American citizens’ Second Amendment-guaranteed rights.  We need to do so once again.

Bob Barr served in the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003, representing Georgia's 7th Congressional District as a Republican. He was the Libertarian Party's nominee for President in 2008.

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