Monday, May 13, 2013

The true implications of the UN Small Arms Treaty

A lot of people claim the UN Small Arms Treaty to be “harmless” to the legal rights of American citizens, because it specifically states a sovereign nation's civilian firearms rights are not applicable to the treaty.

With that said, the treaty's stated goals and guidelines call for controls on what is exported out of the country, to prevent weapons from falling into the hands of “non-state actors”. Such a definition would include everyone that is not recognized as a legitimate government power. It would include everyone from Al Qaeda and Kony's child-soldier army, the Syrian rebels our country is giving monetary aid to (to finance a revolution, which would include the purchase of arms), the resistance fighters of WWII (whom we actually CREATED a pistol specifically for), and even the American colonial revolutionaries who founded this nation.

In 1986, the US congress passed what is known as the Firearms Owners Protection Act. While it included the controversial Hughes Amendment banning the registration of (and as a result, the private possession of) any and all full-auto “machine guns” produced after May 1986, it also prevented the BATFE from operating or maintaining any type of firearm registry or instituting new registration regulations after that date.

Now let's say hypothetically, the people of Cuba wanted to shed the shackles of communism. Due to ITAR restrictions banning the private shipment of firearms outside the US and its territories, it would be necessary to obtain permission from the state department and have them shipped under the official authority of the US government...who would, in turn, be in violation of the UN Arms Trade Treaty, because Cuban revolutionaries are considered “non-state actors”. Nevermind the fact that the US has had trade and travel embargoes on the nation of Cuba since the communist revolution, and even tried to help overthrow the Castro government in the past using methods that would put them in specific violation of the UN Arms Trade Treaty.

Now let's go a step further, and say the massive amount of second-generation American citizens of Cuban descent living in the US decide that they are unwilling to wait on the US government's assistance that would now be in violation of the UN treaty, and they're tired of waiting on the UN to recognize the resistance in Cuba to be recognized as a legitimate government.

These American citizens, children and even grandchildren of American citizens, have a close connection to the people of Cuba. Being roughly 80mi from the coast of Florida, there are many blood relatives still living under the bondage of communism and despotism. They also have the constitutionally-protected right to purchase firearms for self-protection, sporting purposes, or “just because they feel like it”...including semi-automatic versions of the very same rifles our state-actor troops are currently using in battle. Because of the FOPA of 1986, the US government is prohibited by law from keeping a registry of the current ownership status of these rifles beyond the initial sale from a licensed dealer.

Suppose 200 Cuban-Americans out of Miami's 400,000 people got together and decided to help out the Cuban resistance. Over a period of three months, each of these people could purchase three rifles, and say nothing to no one about their reasoning for doing so. Unless purchased from a very small gun shop, the purchase of one rifle per month would not raise suspicions...nor is it required to be reported to the BATFE. Within a three-month period, 600 rifles could be obtained in such a manner. That would be enough rifles to outfit a force roughly equivalent to three US Marine rifle companies.

Without specific knowledge of a conspiracy to violate ITAR regulations, the US government is constitutionally prohibited from keeping records of current ownership status or preventing the purchase of such rifles. Without specific knowledge that such a conspiracy even exists, the US government and its state and local counterparts are prohibited from even investigating the situation because the mere purchase of the rifles is “reasonably known to be” a constitutionally-protected act done in a manner not meeting the BATFE's standards of reporting suspicious purchases.

How, specifically, can the US be in compliance with the UN treaty by preventing the mass transfer of firearms to a non-state party? It cannot investigate the purchase of a rifle without a reasonable suspicion that it is to be used in a crime (such as a conspiracy to violate ITAR), nor can it create a registry of current ownership status due to the FOPA of 1986.

Essentially, the US will be forced to be in violation of either existing US law, be in violation of the UN treaty, or be forced to repeal specific portions of the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986.

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