Secretary of State John Kerry will sign the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty on Wednesday, the State Department confirmed, setting up a Senate showdown over an international agreement many in Congress believe would usurp the Second Amendment.
Fox News reports that a State Department official substantiated rumors of Kerry’s plan to sign the treaty while in New York for a meeting of the U.N. General Assembly.
The agreement would regulate international trade in conventional weapons, including small arms, in a bid to keep such equipment out of the hands of rogue regimes and terrorist groups. One hundred fifty-three nations, including the United States, voted in favor of the treaty during a U.N. vote last April.
But gun-rights activists have blasted the treaty as a threat to “the rights and privacy of American gun owners,” and Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe wrote to Kerry on Tuesday to accuse him of “wasting precious time trying to sign away our laws to the global community and unelected U.N. bureaucrats.”
“The U.N. should not be deceived into thinking the U.S. will ratify a treaty just because it has been signed by the President or someone in his Administration,” he continued, attaching a list of 53 senators who voted to oppose America’s ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty back in March.
Any international treaty signed by the administration requires the approval of two-thirds of U.S. senators before it becomes the law of the land.
Many lawmakers in the House have also expressed concern over the agreement. 130 representatives sent a letter to President Obama in May, urging him not to sign a treaty they worry could be “used to justify the imposition of further [gun] controls within the United States.”
Article 5 of the treaty requires that each signatory country “establish and maintain a national control system, including a national control list,” raising the specter of a federal gun registry that could track the purchase and use of all firearms and their components.
The text also “encourages” nations to “apply the provisions of this Treaty to the broadest range of conventional arms,” causing gun rights advocates to fear that regulators will seek to limit not just assault weapon ownership, but handguns and hunting rifles as well.
It’s unclear how the Senate ratification process will move forward once Kerry signs the agreement on Wednesday. Fifty other nations will also have to approve the U.N. treaty before it can take effect. So far, only four have done so.
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