The National Rifle Association is gearing up for an international showdown after the association opposed the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, which would monitor and slow the international trade and import of firearms into conflict zones. The treaty requires countries to monitor all imported firearms and filter out those that are more likely to be used in organized crimes or terrorist attacks. The NRA is worried that the treaty will restrict civilian weapons and rights, while supporters of the treaty believe it will reduce trafficking and the chance of attacks using these particular weapons.
“This treaty is a common-sense alignment of the interests of governments, law-abiding citizens and individuals all over the world, who deserve the right to live free from harm,” said Michelle A. Ringuette, chief of campaigns and programs at Amnesty International USA. “Any step toward restraining the illicit sale and transfer of weapons used to commit horrific crimes is a good move forward, and the world could use a lot more steps in the direction of ending human rights abuses.”
The U.N. Arms Trade Treaty covers the international trade of a variety of firearms—ranging from small hand held guns to massive munitions such as tanks, missiles, and other war weapons. As part of its opposition, the NRA has enlisted the World Forum on Shooting Activities, which was founded in 1996 to extend the NRA globally, in its fight against the treaty. The NRA and the World Forum believe that civilian firearms should be exempt from the treaty and that the treaty could force U.S. civilian firearm owners to register with the International Gun Registry.
Last July, the U.S., along with China and Russia, asked for more time and pulled out of a preliminary discussion by the U.N. on the treaty. However, negotiations on the treaty resumed on Monday, with the Obama administration and Secretary of State John Kerry providing assurance of support. “The United States is steadfast in its commitment to achieve a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty that helps address the adverse effects of the international arms trade on global peace and stability,” Kerry said. “We support a treaty that will bring all countries closer to existing international best practices, which we already observe, while preserving national decisions to transfer conventional arms responsibly.”
Krysta Loera is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.