There’s been a persistent rumor on the Internet floated about that Obama is planning to sign the UN Arms Trade Treaty on July 27th. I’ve seen this going around, and wanted to address this issue, particularly since this morning I received a FOAC newsletter which says:
“Of course we may not have to wait long if the reports coming out of D.C. are true.Â Informed sources have told us thatÂ the United Nations ATT treaty is most likely to be signed by President ObamaÂ on July 27th and if this is true then we may have an even tougher road ahead of us.”
The source of this Dick Morris, former Clinton advisor, and apparently someone none too happy with the Clintons for how he views he was treated. The guy has an axe to grind, and more importantly, a book to sell, which he gets to in the video. I’m skeptical that Morris knows anything, other than the UN conference meant to supply a draft version of the treaty ends on the 27th, so he’s betting on the Obama Administration making a non-binding commitment to support the treaty. This would be a great campaign issue to use against Obama, but the treaty can’t be effectively ratified without consent of Congress. Obama’s commitment would mean nothing legally. As I’ve said before, the real threat, long term, is the effect the treaty will have on the domestic supply of imported firearms and ammunition, on which our shooting community depends heavily. The threat of ATT passage is probably less, due to the supermajority requirements, than other generic gun control we could expect from Congress. FOAC continues:
“A gun ban is the next logical step andÂ the ATT, under the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution, would have the power of a constitutional amendment and would, effectively, repeal the Second Amendment guaranteeing us the right to bear arms.”
I would agree with FOAC and Morris that if this treaty were actually ratified, we’d have a serious problem on our hands, but only because it means Congress is overwhelmingly in the mood for some gun control. A treaty can’t erase the Second Amendment, per the case Reid v. Covert. It was the case of Missouri v. Holland which established that the treaty power was separate and distinct from Congress’ other enumerated powers when the Court upheld the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. Congress’ treaty powers are extensive, but they may not destroy the Bill of Rights.
I don’t want to downplay the potential danger the ATT poses. If the New York Times is pushing it, it’s definitely something to keep an eye on. The treaty is also being pushed by a who’s who of the international gun control movement, so I have high expectations it will develop into a threat, but I’m wary of ginning up threats that don’t exist, or blowing the issue way out of proportion. If Obama does make a non-binding commitment to the ATT, it will mean about as much as it meant when Clinton did it back in the 1990s. It’ll be a campaign issue we can use against Obama, but from a practical standpoint, we’re in pretty good shape to prevent ATT ratification in the Senate. The real damage was done when Obama reversed the Bush era opposition to even talking about the Arms Trade Treaty, which kept a lid on this idea at the UN for the duration of his administration. Once they were free to draft a treaty, there was always a risk that the gun control NGOs would push it in their direction.
Dick Morris is trying to get exposure to sell his book. It’s not a big prognostication to suggest that perhaps after we have a draft treaty, the Obama Administration will make a non-binding commitment. It’s also no big prognostication to suggest that Obama Administration will do nothing in regards to the treaty, to avoid giving us a campaign issue to use in the fall. I wouldn’t bet on it going either way, but regardless of how it goes, it’s something to get angry about, not something to panic about.