Alexander: UN Arms Trade Treaty “Violates The 2nd Amendment Rights Of Tennesseans And All Americans”

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) said Thursday that the United Nations’ proposed Arms Trade Treaty “violates the Second Amendment rights of Tennesseans and all Americans” and that he would oppose it after joining a bipartisan group of 50 senators in a letter to President Obama.

“I am opposed to any United Nations action that undermines our Second Amendment and threatens our country’s sovereignty, and the Arms Trade Treaty that the Obama administration is considering does both,” Senator Alexander said. “The U.N. Arms Trade Treaty violates the Second Amendment rights of Tennesseans and all Americans by failing to protect the lawful ownership and use of firearms. Agreeing to the treaty would also threaten our nation’s sovereignty, as well as the U.S. Senate’s constitutional role of advice and consent by allowing the U.N. to amend the treaty in the future.”

Senator Alexander joined a group of 50 senators, including both Republicans and Democrats, in sending a letter Oct. 15, outlining their opposition to the treaty. Ratification of the treaty would require approval by the U.S. Senate, and the letter outlined six key reasons for opposition:

  1. The treaty failed to achieve consensus, and was adopted by majority vote in the U.N. 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.
  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 full text of the letter is below:

Dear President Obama:

We write to express our concern and regret at your decision to sign the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty. For the following reasons, we cannot give our advice and consent to this treaty:

First, the treaty was adopted by a procedure which violates a red line laid down by your own administration. In October 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that the U.S. supported the negotiation of the treaty only by “the rule of consensus decision-making.” But in April 2013, after the treaty failed to achieve consensus, it was adopted by majority vote in the U.N. General Assembly. We fear that this reversal has done grave damage to the diplomatic credibility of the United States.

Second, the treaty allows amendments by a three-quarters majority vote. As the treaty is amended, it will become a source of political and legal pressure on the U.S. to comply in practice with amendments it was unwilling to accept. This would circumvent the power and duty of the Senate to provide its advice and consent on treaty commitments before they are assumed by the United States.

Third, the treaty includes only a weak non-binding reference to the lawful ownership and use of, and trade in firearms, and recognizes none of these activities, much less individual self-defense, as fundamental individual rights. It encourages governments to collect the identities of individual end users of imported firearms at the national level, which would constitute the core of a national gun registry, and it creates a national “responsibility” to “prevent . . . [the] diversion” of firearms, which could be used to justify the imposition of controls within the U.S. that would pose a threat to the Second Amendment and infringe on the rights protected therein.

Fourth, 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. The Senate cannot effectively provide advice on an ambiguous treaty, and it should never provide its consent to such a treaty.

Fifth, the criteria at the heart of the treaty are vague and easily politicized. They will restrict the ability of the U.S. to conduct our own foreign policy, and will steadily subject the U.S. to the influence of internationally-defined norms, a process that would impinge on our national sovereignty.  We believe that treaties which allow foreign sources of authority to impose judgment or control upon the US, as this one does, violate the right of the American people, under the Constitution, to freely govern themselves.

Sixth, the State Department has acknowledged that “specific...country concerns, including Taiwan, China, and the Middle East, create challenges for establishing [treaty] criteria that can be applied without exception and fit U.S. national security interests. These concerns would make Senate ratification difficult.” We are indeed deeply concerned that the treaty criteria as established could hinder the United States in 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.

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. As members of the Senate, we pledge to oppose the ratification of this treaty, and we give notice that we do not regard the U.S. as bound to uphold its object and purpose.

We appreciate your consideration on this issue and look forward to your response.


Uses For Discarded Glass To Be One Of Focuses Of Green/Spaces City Recycling Grant

Finding possible uses for discarded glass will be one of the focuses for Green/Spaces under a $40,000 grant from the city related to recycling. Justin Holland, city public works director, said glass is "the most challenging" aspect in recycling at this time due to the lack of markets for recycled glass. Green/Spaces is "to launch an expansive educational marketing campaign ... (click for more)

Fort Oglethorpe Arrest Report For Sept. 16-22

Here is the Fort Oglethorpe arrest report for Sept. 16-22: 09-15-2016 Robert Edwin Gaylor, 48, of 255 Allen Street, Summerville arrested for contempt of court. Tyler Robert Abercrombie, 22, of 86 Loach Drive, Rossville arrested on an outstanding warrant. 09-16-2016 Brandon Walter Seib, 33, of 38 McBride Drive, Chickamauga arrested on charges of driving ... (click for more)

Something Beautiful Happened Monday Night - Not The Debate

Monday, Sept. 26, our first presidential debate happened; no minds were changed.  Yet something beautiful and important happened.  The Atlanta Falcons, my team, played the New Orleans Saints.  Instead of some irrelevant, broad based, screw America protest, the opposing teams locked arms in unity. I was impressed. I have been a Falcon Fan since 1971 when WMOC AM ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Arnold Palmer’s Greatness

This is hardly meant to be flippant but I’d be willing to bet I’ve been in the presence of more great people than anyone you know. I’ve never ranked them, or ever dared to wonder who was the greatest, such as Muhammad Ali or Elvis Presley, but there are two traits that those who reach the highest pinnacle have in common. First, not a one of them was any good at what made them famous ... (click for more)

Vols' Dobbs, Barnett Grab SEC Player of Week Honors

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs is the SEC Offensive Player of the Week and end Derek Barnett the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week. This week's honor marks the first time this season that a Vol has earned SEC Offensive Player of the Week. Dobbs was the last UT player to win the award in Week 6 of 2015 following his performance in the Vols' ... (click for more)

Craine, Ribeiro Named SoCon Players Of The Week

Two University of Tennessee at Chattanooga football student-athletes were named Southern Conference Players of the Week, following the Mocs' 41-21 win over Samford on Saturday.  Seniors Derrick Craine and Henrique Ribeiro both earned recognition from the league office announced today. Craine rushed for a career-high 222 yards on 23 carries with two touchdowns in the win. ... (click for more)