Global Arms Trade Treaty

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Written by Matthew Harper. Media by Bobby Williams.

On Tuesday, April 2, the United Nations easily approved a new global arms trade treaty by a vote of 154-3 with only 23 abstentions. Included among the many “yes” votes were the United States’ representatives to the UN, but that by no means implies that we should expect to see the treaty go into effect here in the States.

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Reuters reports that a Senate measure wanting the treaty rejected was already supported last month, and, with a two-thirds majority needed for the treaty to be approved and put into use in the United States, it’s almost completely unlikely that it will ever pass the Senate. The reason for this could be that the U.S. is the world’s leading gun exporter, making up a solid 30 percent of global gun trade. Other major exporters such as Russia and China will also heavily weigh the options before actually approving the treaty in their nations.

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The treaty, the first to ever regulate arms trade on a global scale, deals with not only small arms, such as personal firearms, but also tanks, aircrafts, missiles, and more. The only votes against the treaty in the U.N. came from Iran, Syria, and North Korea, showing that most forward-thinking nations around the world stood for the treaty; however, that doesn’t mean they’d personally enforce it, as the United States’ pending decision on the measure shows.

CNN cites the National Rifle Association as standing in firm opposition to the treaty’s ratification by the Senate. They claim the treaty “is designed to severely restrict or even outright ban the right to sell, purchase, carry, or own a firearm in America.” It’s unclear if the NRA is actually aware that the measure has little to no chance of being approved by senators—with many of those senators receiving funding from the NRA, there’s a chance that the scale is tipping from “unlikely” to “impossible” for this treaty to be ratified in the United States.

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Before the issue would even be voted on by the Senate, though, it would first have to be decided by the Obama administration that the measure was even worth putting up to a Senate vote. It’s likely that Obama will sign the pact and have it reviewed before seeking ratification in the Senate, but with the vote last month calling for the treaty’s rejection, it’s believed that the treaty will be dead in the water when and if it does hit the Senate floor. Furthermore, without the United States commitment to the treaty, Russia, China, and other major arms producers will most likely not jump on board with the measure, either (Reuters).



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