While efforts to reduce gun violence in the U.S. move forward, the international community is watching closely to see if NRA lobbyists once again seek to derail the Arms Trade Treaty when the U.N. negotiations resume next month. Here’s how to talk about the Treaty and hold its opponents accountable.
When there are international laws for the sale of iPods and bananas but not AK-47s and grenade launchers, we’ve got a problem. The Arms Trade Treaty sets uniform standards for international arms sales — bringing foreign governments up to high U.S. standards and the black arms markets out of the shadows.
The Treaty protects legitimate trade and holds foreign governments accountable for selling arms to human rights violators. Without it, warlords and terrorists will keep exploiting loopholes to get weapons. These weapons are used by warlords to force child soldiers to kill their parents, by terrorists to attack American soldiers and missionaries, and by gangs to rape refugee women and girls.
NRA lobbyists know the Treaty only affects foreign countries, not gun laws for American civilians, and helps keep weapons out of the hands of terrorists who kill Americans overseas. The Treaty protects law-abiding Americans’ freedoms and our troops overseas, but NRA lobbyists are lying about it anyway to fundraise off American gun owners. This Treaty is in America’s security, business, and moral interests. It protects legitimate trade and cracks down on weapons sales to war criminals and terrorists. We can’t let NRA lobbyists derail it.
Need to Know
THE PROBLEM & THE IMPACT
One person every minute around the worlddies as a result of armed violence, with thousands more injured, raped, displaced, and suffering as a family every day.
Every year, more than 500,000 people are killed as a result of armed violence, armed conflicts,and human rights violations perpetrated with firearms — including genocide, gang rapes, and children forced into becoming soldiers.
By the end of 2011, over 26 million people worldwide were forced to flee their homes as a result of armed conflict — local and regional wars and strife enabled by the international arms trade.
About 60% of documented human rights violations involve the use of small arms (hand-held firearms such as rifles and machine guns) and light weapons (such as grenade launchers and shoulder-fired missiles). In fact, more human rights abuses are committed with small arms than with any other weapon.
THE SOLUTION: ARMS TRADE TREATY
Most of the international arms trade are not subject to international standards. Instead there is only a patchwork of local regulations and giant loopholes, with only 56 countries controlling arms brokers and less than half of those with associated criminal penalties.
As a result, the patchwork of bilateral and multi-lateral agreements creates gaps and loopholes that arms dealers exploit to supply weapons and ammunition to people who shouldn’t get them. For example, if the U.S. denies another country’s request for arms sales or exports, that country can simply shop around for another country that doesn’t have similarly strong standards.
Then-Secretary of State Clinton has said the Treaty would allow America to promote our high standards for the entire international community.
Not only is it in America’s interest to have all countries operating from the same rule book, it’s also our responsibility because the U.S. is the top global supplier of major conventional weapons.
A strong Arms Trade Treaty is squarely in America’s national security interest. National security leaders, including our military leaders and the CIA, warn that the greatest threats to our security today are from destabilized, ungoverned regions where extremism and terrorism can flourish.
Our enemies abroad kill U.S. troops overseas with ammunition and weapons acquired on the black markets in global arms sales — which the Treaty would crack down on.
Supporters of the U.S. signing onto a strong Arms Trade Treaty include U.S. military leaders, the Vatican, World Council of Churches, National Association of Evangelicals, World Evangelical Alliance, Amnesty International, Arms Control Association, and Oxfam.
Most people around the world — including the majority of Americans, who are among the most enthusiastic — support an international order based on international law and treaties and also endorse a stronger role for the United Nations.
Three-fourths of Americans say international issues influence their vote for president and want leaders who emphasize international cooperation.
In fact, 60% of voters want a president who believes America should work through international organizations like the United Nations to make sure America’s values and interests are respected around the world.
The bottom line is this: The Arms Trade Treaty will uphold the 2nd Amendment and respect gun ownership laws for United States civilians while making the international community safer. It will help keep dangerous weapons off the black market and keep them out of the hands of human rights violators. By bringing international arms trade standards up to those of the United States, we can help make the whole world a safer place.
For more information on the Arms Trade Treaty or to read the entire Message Matters memo, click here.