Target: US Secretary of State John Kerry
Goal: Applaud recent addition of US to list of signatories on the United Nations’ treaty for regulations of weapons exportations
The United States recently became the 91st nation to sign on to the UN’s Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), with John Kerry as our representative. This comprehensive treaty covers not only “small arms and light weapons” and ammunition, but also tanks, armored combat vehicles, combat aircraft, missiles, and warships. It requires member countries to give a national body the power to regulate their arms exports, ensuring that the action does not violate any embargoes or constitute illegal trade; they also must determine whether or not the arms they export will be used for the purposes of genocide, crimes against humanity, the murder of civilians, or other war crimes. States must further provide a report to the UN Secretariat regarding measures taken to pursue accordance with the treaty, as well as a yearly report detailing exports and steps taken to prevent violations of human rights in this area (though “commercially sensitive or national security information” may be excluded). The treaty stresses international cooperation and discussion, mandating the convening of a Conference of States Parties within a year after countries become signatories, with the purpose of reviewing the implementation of the ATT as well as considering amendments as needed.
Despite the uproar from the National Rifle Association (which has been campaigning against the treaty) and other conservatives, the ATT does not violate the Second Amendment or any other rights. The American Bar Association (ABA) published a white paper on the matter before Kerry’s recent action, explaining that the treaty clearly did not violate the Bill of Rights, as it covers arms for use in war and specifically deals with exports, both of which do not fall under the subject of the Second Amendment. Additionally, writes the ABA, restrictions on imports are constitutional, and are already regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms – no new bureaucracy or legislation would be required to uphold the ATT. Sec. Kerry also acknowledged the importance of the treaty in bringing about global peace, saying, “I signed it because President Obama knows that from decades of efforts that anytime we work…cooperatively to address the illicit trade in conventional weapons, we make the world a safer place. And this treaty is a significant step in that effort.” He added, “This treaty will not diminish anyone’s freedom. In fact the treaty recognizes the ability of both individuals and states to obtain, possess, and use arms for legit purposes.” Now we can only hope that the ATT has a chance of securing the two-thirds vote in the Senate to be ratified.
By signing this petition, you are commending Sec. Kerry’s important action in representing the US as a member state for the ATT. You are thanking him for acknowledging that the treaty is an important step in the direction of world peace, and that it violates no constitutional rights.
Dear Secretary Kerry,
The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty is, as you have acknowledged, a vital step toward eliminating armed conflict between nations and attaining world peace. As it pertains only to the exportation of weapons of war, the treaty is not applicable to those rights covered under the Second Amendment of our Constitution.
Thank you for finally representing the US as a signatory to the ATT. Thank you for recognizing the important distinction between international trade and private ownership of firearms, as well as between weapons of war and common sidearms. I urge you to do everything in your power to ensure the ratification of the treaty by the Senate, as it is central to manifesting a more cooperative and peaceful view of the US in the eyes of our international neighbors.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Ralph Alswang/Center for American Progress Action Fund via Flickr