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UN Arms Trade Treaty

Monday, November 23, 2009

We have received a number of emails and calls regarding the UN and the impact of international treaties on our Second Amendment freedom.

The NRA has been engaged at the United Nations and elsewhere internationally in response to anti-small arms initiatives for over 14 years. In most cases, agendas for the elimination of private ownership of firearms are disguised as calls for international arms control to stem the flow of illicit military weapons. These instruments are generally promoted by a small group of nations and a large number of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working in conjunction with departmental bureaucracies in multi-national institutions such as the UN and European Union.

The new U.S. administration, to no one’s surprise, has changed direction in the UN with respect to international small arms control initiatives that were resisted by the previous administration.

The current issue under discussion, the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), is in the early stages of the negotiation process. There is no actual draft text at this time and the ATT is scheduled to by a consensus process between now and 2012. It should be noted that any treaty must be approved by two thirds of the U.S. Senate for ratification.

Such attempts to thwart our freedoms should be no surprise, given the anti-gun climate of the international community in general, and the current U.S. administration in particular.

More generally, the NRA does not concern itself with foreign policy or arms control initiativesexcept to the extent they would directly or indirectly affect Second Amendment rights.

In that arena, we have been very active. For many years, NRA has been monitoring and actively fighting any credible attempts on the part of the UN to restrict our sovereignty and gun rights. As a recognized Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) at the United Nations since 1997, NRA gives gun owners a strong voice in the UN’s debate over global "gun control." As one of over 2,000 NGOs representing everyone from religious groups to the banking industry, NRA has access to UN meetings that are closed to the general public, and is able to distribute informational materials to participants in UN activities.

Most importantly, NRA’s status as an NGO allows us to monitor more closely the internal UN debate over firearm issues and report back to our members. The role NRA plays within the UN as an NGO is almost identical to the role our registered lobbyists play every day on Capitol Hill and in state capitals across the nationeducating and informing decision-makers of the facts behind the debate, and working to protect the interests of American gun owners and NRA members.

Due to our NGO status, NRA was able to take an active role in thwarting the absurdly titled "UN Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects" in 2006, and the previous meeting, the "UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons" in the summer of 2001.

The UN Small Arms Conference ended in deadlock with no formal conclusions or recommendations, due in large part to the NRA. In the final analysis, the complexity of the issue and the concerns of hunters, sport shooters and firearm owners world-wide prevailed. The failure of the program was total; no recommendations on ammunition, civilian possession or future UN meetings, or for that matter any other subjects, were adopted.

In addition to its UN activities, NRA is a founding member of the World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities (WFSA). The WFSA is an association of hunting, shooting, and industry organizations that was founded in 1996. The WFSA includes over 35 national and international organizations, and represents over 100 million sport shooters worldwide.

NRA members may rest assured that we are actively engaged in international matters. We have never hesitated, nor will we hesitate, to use the political and other resources available to us to resist any international agreement that could in any way affect our Second Amendment rights.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.