Twelve Democratic senators have joined 45 Republicans in a fast growing movement to halt progress on an Obama-backed United Nations effort that could bring international gun control into the United States and slap America's gun owners with severe restrictions.
Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester's office today provided Whispers with their letter, signed by 11 other Democrats, urging the president to press for significant changes in the treaty. Their major concern: that domestic manufacture, possession, and sales of firearms and ammo will be included, thereby giving an international authority the right to regulate arms sales already protected by the Second Amendment. They also said any move for an international gun registry would be a non-starter. [See editorial cartoons about the Democrats.]
Ratification requires two-thirds of the Senate. So far 57 senators have said they would vote against the treaty, expected to be wrapped up next year.
In his letter, Moran wrote, "Our country's sovereignty and the Second Amendment rights of American citizens must not be infringed upon by the United Nations," Moran wrote in the letter. "Today, the Senate sends a powerful message to the Obama Administration: an Arms Trade Treaty that does not protect ownership of civilian firearms will fail in the Senate. Our firearm freedoms are not negotiable."
The emergence of strong Democratic resistance comes as the president is trying to deal with fallout from liberal Democrats upset that he has opened the door to major changes in Social Security and Medicare as part of the debt ceiling crisis. [Check out political cartoons about the budget and deficit.]
The U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, which the Bush administration had opposed, would regulate with the international trade of arms. It would cover the trading of conventional firearms likes those used by collectors and sportsmen and women. [Read NRA Boss: Obama's Gone in 2012.]
The goal of the treaty is to come up with internationally recognized rules governing the trade of guns and ammo. The United States is the world's largest exporter of arms.
Tester's letter concludes, "As members of the United States Senate, it is our constitutional responsibility to advise and consent on the ratification of the United Nation's Arms Trade Treaty. Before we could support ratification, we must have assurances that our concerns are adequately addressed and that the Treaty will not in any way impede upon the Constitutional rights of American gun owners. Anything short of this commitment would be unacceptable.