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Portman and others refuse UN arms treaty

By Frank Lewis

October 17, 2013

Frank Lewis


PDT Staff Writer


A lot of Americans who believe their Second Amendment rights guaranteeing the right to bear arms are in danger because of a UN arms treaty has a lot of support in high places.


Tuesday, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) joined a bipartisan group of 50 U.S. Senators, including Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), in reiterating to President Obama that the Senate overwhelmingly opposes the ratification of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and will not be bound by its obligations.


“The U.S. cannot and will not place the Second Amendment rights of the American people in the hands of the United Nations,” Portman said. “I am disappointed that the Administration has backed down on its self-proclaimed red line and chosen to sign the UN Arms Treaty in spite of Congress’ bipartisan rejection. Such an agreement will weaken the United States’ ability to conduct our own foreign policy while violating the rights of law-abiding Americans, and I strongly reject the ratification of this treaty.”


In the letter to the president, the Senators outline six reasons why they will not give advice and consent to the treaty and are therefore not bound to uphold the treaty’s object and purpose.


“We urge you to notify the treaty depository that the U.S. does not intend to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty, and is therefore not bound by its obligations,” the 50 Senators wrote to President Obama.


The six reasons for opposing ratification of the ATT include:


1. The treaty failed to achieve consensus, and was adopted by majority vote in the UN General Assembly. This violates the red line drawn by the Obama Administration;


2. The treaty allows amendments by a three-quarters majority vote, circumventing the power and duty of the U.S. Senate to provide its advice and consent on treaty commitments before they are assumed by the United States;


3. The treaty includes only a weak non-binding reference to the lawful ownership, use of, and trade in firearms, and recognizes none of these activities, much less individual self-defense, as fundamental individual rights. This poses a threat to the Second Amendment;


4. The State Department has acknowledged that the treaty is “ambiguous.” By becoming party to the treaty, the U.S. would therefore be accepting commitments that are inherently unclear;


5. The criteria at the heart of the treaty are vague and easily politicized. They violate the right of the American people, under the Constitution, to freely govern themselves. The language restricts the ability of the United States to conduct its own foreign policy and allows foreign sources of authority to impose judgment or control upon the United States; and


6. The State Department has acknowledged that the treaty includes language that could hinder the United States from fulfilling its strategic, legal and moral commitments to provide arms to key allies such as the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the State of Israel.


The letter is signed by a bipartisan group of 50 U.S. Senators including: Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Jeffrey Chiesa (R-N.J.), Daniel Coats (R-Ind.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Jim Risch (R-Ind.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), David Vitter (R-La.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).


Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.