The letter states that Congress is concerned the treaty could “pose significant threats to our national security, foreign policy and economic interests as well as our constitutional rights.”
The letter goes on to declare that the Second Amendment guarantees the “fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms” and the U.S. has no business supporting a treaty that infringes on the Bill of Rights.
The ATT would specifically require signatories to identify and trace, in “a timely and reliable manner,” illicit small arms and light weapons. The information would be required to be submitted to the United Nations.
The treaty was opposed by the Bush administration, but President Obama’s administration reversed direction on the treaty. U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said the United States would support talks towards ratifying the treaty.
While the treaty is still in a draft stage, the United Nations is beginning a month-long process beginning this week to craft the final details of the treaty.
Supporters say the treaty is necessary to prevent rogue countries from being able to purchase guns from arms dealers. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said concerns about the treaty restricting individual rights are “misplaced” and that he supported its goals.
Critics of the treaty have long maintained that the treaty would lead to mandatory registration of all firearms and every sale; even those between individuals.
The congressional letter also takes issue with the “moral equivalence” of comparing America to totalitarian regimes and calls upon the administration to break consensus and reject the treaty. It goes on to remind the president and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that “the Constitution gives the power to regulate international commerce to Congress alone.”
This is not the first time Congress has sent letters to the administration opposing the small arms treaty. Last year, Congress sent off a similar letter addressing many of the same concerns. This letter was signed by 12 Democrats who joined 45 Republicans in opposing the treaty.
The letter stated, “The Arms Trade Treaty must not in any way regulate the domestic manufacture, possession or sale of firearms or ammunition.”
It went on to state, “The establishment of any sort of international gun registry that could impede upon the privacy rights of law-abiding gun owners is a non-starter.”
While that letter was been touted in the mainstream media as an indication that Democrats are now opposing gun control, some pointed out that the letter actually proved the opposite. The Senators stated they support the general concept of the treaty but believe countries such as the U.S. should have “exclusive authority to regulate arms within their own borders.”
Critics point out that this statement indicates that the senators believe firearms registration is acceptable provided it is initiated by individual governments.