Treaty Endangers Second Amendment and U.S. Sovereignty

On April 16, 2009, President Obama emerged from a meeting with Mexico’s President Calder??³n to announce his support for the “Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing and Trafficking in Firearms” treaty (CIFTA): an international gun control treaty signed by President Bill Clinton in 1997 but never ratified by the U.S. Senate.

Unlike Clinton, Obama has no plans to let the treaty languish without ratification. Thus he promised to push the treaty through the Senate quickly as a means of curtailing the border violence and arms trafficking in Mexico’s current drug wars. Yet the text of CIFTA indicates that the treaty would do very little to curtail violence in Mexico, unless creating a national gun registry in the United States is something that will cut crime south of the border.

For example, the preamble of the treaty describes “the urgent need for all states, and especially those states that produce, export, and import arms, to take the necessary measures to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms.” To accomplish this, the preamble calls for the “exchange of information” and “effective control of firearms [and] ammunition” between nations that sign treaty.

The “exchange of information” implies that our government would not simply have a gun registry that is nationally accessible, but internationally accessible as well.

When I contacted Larry Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, about this aspect of the treaty, he said, “It would clear the way for imposing a national gun registry [and] would overturn the current prohibition on keeping centralized firearms records by the federal government.”

But this isn’t even the scariest part of the CIFTA. Once you get past the preamble, you see that another goal of the treaty is to ensure a special “marking" on “firearms…at the time of manufacturing.” Article VI of the treaty explicitly states that the purpose behind “marking” the weapon is to make “tracing the firearms” back to the store or firearm dealer who first sold the weapon easier (even if the dealer sold the weapon legally to someone who passed the NICS background check in the United States).

Lest we underestimate the danger of this aspect of treaty, note that Article XIII of the treaty calls for signatories to make available to other signatories the names of “authorized producers, dealers, importers, exporters, and, whenever possible, carriers of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials.” In other words, even though your local gun-store owner sells his weapons legally by following all federal guidelines, any gun he sells that is taken across a border illegally could result in a knock on his door by international investigators. Making matters even worse, Article XIX of the treaty provides for “extradition” of those in violation of CIFTA.

Pratt was especially leery of this aspect of the treaty, saying: “Our government has [already] been doing all it can to reduce the number of firearms dealers [in this country]. CIFTA would make dealers vulnerable to extradition to such paradigms of due process as [exist in] Mexico.”

When HUMAN EVENTS contacted U.S Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) to get their views on the treaty, they were both emphatic on their commitment to defend the Second Amendment and U.S. sovereignty in matters relating to guns and gun ownership.

Cornyn said he was “concerned that the inter-American arms trafficking treaty may lead to infringement of our Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms [without providing any] solution to…the problems occurring along the U.S.-Mexico border.” He said he “will vigorously oppose the ratification of any treaty that impinges on the constitutional rights of the American people affirmed by the Supreme Court last year.”

While Inhofe believes “violence in Mexico is no doubt expanding and must be firmly addressed,” he rejected the idea of addressing it though “a treaty that may be used to impose further restrictions on law-abiding citizens of the United States.” Inhofe also shared Pratt’s concern over what this treaty would mean for lawful firearms dealers in the United States. According to Inhofe: “CIFTA…is not aimed at the criminals. It is aimed at U.S. manufacturers who sell firearms legally to American citizens.”

Like Cornyn, Inhofe made it clear that he could “not support the ratification of CIFTA or any international treaty that places limitations on our constitutional rights.” He believes “our national sovereignty must be respected and…will not allow another country or international body to dictate our gun polices.”

So what does all this mean for freedom loving Americans? It means we need to be grateful for the work Cornyn and Inhofe (and others) are doing. But it also means we need to do our duty as informed citizens and act.

When President Obama asks the Senate to ratify CIFTA, we must call our Senators and implore them to oppose it.