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Oppose the Inter-American Arms Convention Treaty

Speaking to reporters while standing alongside Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon in Mexico City on April 16, President Barack Obama said he would push the U.S. Senate to ratify a treaty called the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials. The convention, known by its Spanish acronym CIFTA, has not been brought up for a vote in the Senate since it was adopted in 1997. Like all treaties, it would require a two-thirds majority (67 votes) in the upper house to secure ratification.

The treaty, listed on the Senate website, as Treaty Number: 105-49, was signed by the United States and 28 other OAS Member States on November 14, 1997, at the OAS Headquarters in Washington and was transmitted to the Senate on June 09, 1998. It was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations by unanimous consent the same day.

Answering a question during a press conference held in Mexico City on April 17, Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, said: “This is one of the priority treaties that we'd like to see the Senate’s advice and consent on.  And, you know, we are working very closely with Senator Reid and many others on a range of issues, to include this.” (Emphasis added.)

Ratifying the CIFTA treaty would be a major threat to our citizens’ right to keep and bear arms. Since none of the other nations that are party to the "Inter-American Convention" share the protections afforded by our Second Amendment, to make our own law subject to the multinational convention would only undermine those protections.

Examining the treaty, we find that its text is worded benignly enough, using such reassuring phrases as “REAFFIRMING the principles of sovereignty, nonintervention, and the juridical equality of states.” However, since the principles of firearms ownership embodied in our Second Amendment are unique in the world, any accommodation with nations that do not enjoy similar protections is bound to dilute our own government’s respect for the Second Amendment. Certain language in the treaty indicates that its authors viewed the right to keep and bear arms differently than Americans are accustomed to. For example, the treaty attempts to reassure its signatories that it “is not intended to discourage or diminish lawful leisure or recreational activities such as travel or tourism for sport shooting, hunting, and other forms of lawful ownership and use recognized by the States Parties.”

But in the case of the United States, the right to keep and bear arms is not contingent upon our government’s definition of “lawful ownership” — it is a fundamental right. And that right is designed not merely to allow for “leisure or recreational activities” but for self defense and as the last recourse of the citizenry against a future government that may become totalitarian.

Also disturbing is the treaty’s references to international law and the United Nations. At one point it references “strengthening existing international law enforcement support mechanisms such as the International Weapons and Explosives Tracking System (IWETS) of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, [etc.]”

As to why international law is significant to us, an article in the Boston Globe for October 28, 2004 reported that Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor — in a15-minute speech delivered at Georgetown law school the previous day — had “extolled the growing role of international law in US courts.” The newspaper quoted O’Connor as stating: “'International law is no longer a specialty. . . . It is vital if judges are to faithfully discharge their duties.”

The last thing the United States needs is to be a party to a treaty that creates a precedent in international law regulating the possession of arms, precedent that may later be cited by U.S. judges. Here is a video from Gun Owners of America that discusses the threat to our Second Amendment rights posed by the CIFTA treaty:

Furthermore, the subordination of the OAS to the UN is revealed by the provision of the treaty that provides that copies of it “shall be deposited with the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States, which shall forward an authenticated copy of its text to the Secretariat of the United Nations for registration and publication, in accordance with Article 102 of the United Nations Charter.”

The UN has a long history of attempting to regulate arms in a manner incompatible with the U.S. view of the right to keep and bear arms, through bodies such as the UN Security Council Small Arms Ministerial. In his millennium report, We the Peoples, Secretary-General Kofi Annan declared: “Controlling the proliferation of illicit weapons is a necessary first step toward the non-proliferation of small arms. These weapons must be brought under the control of states, and states must be held responsible for their transfer.”

If our borders are secure, we can police the importation of weapons from criminal or terrorist sources all on our own, without becoming entangled in international treaties that may dilute our basic right to keep and bear arms without infringement.

Follow this link to an alert that allows you to email your senators now, urging them to oppose ratification of this dangerous treaty.

To read more about the danger to liberty posed by gun control, we recommend the materials found online at

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