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Arms treaty would not regulate small arms sales

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A recent correspondent recycled the debunked conspiracy theory that a proposed treaty, the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), “has dirty fingers reaching down to small-arms sales to law-abiding citizens.” That is simply false. Even the staunchly conservative Heritage Foundation says so. At heritage.org you can find their analysis of the proposed treaty. The treaty would be applicable only to the international arms trade, not domestic trading in handguns and rifles.

The U.N. resolution proposing the ATT provides that it is “the exclusive right of States (that is, Nations) to regulate internal transfers of arms and … ownership, including through constitutional protections on private ownership.” In any event, the proposal died in the U.N. proceeding that concluded July 27, 2012, without adoption of the proposal.

Even if it had passed, the proposal would be just that, a proposal. It would not become the law of ours unless ratified by the Senate. Fifty-eight senators indicated opposition to the ATT unless it contained guarantees that it would not “in any way regulate the domestic manufacture, possession, or sales of firearms or ammunition,” as stated by 13 Democratic senators in a joint release. Forty-five Republican senators took a similar position. Ratification was a nonstarter without such a provision.

One brief Internet search will disclose that there was considerable public debate and commentary on the process that cannot be fairly characterized as “clandestine,” as our correspondent called it.

John W. Graham

Watertown

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