Bill Aimed at Protecting U.S. Constitutional Rights Related to U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

June 13, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today announced their support for legislation to protect the second amendment rights of American firearms owners from a United Nations treaty being negotiated to establish international arms trade standards.

The Mississippi Senators are cosponsoring the Second Amendment Sovereignty Act of 2012 (S.2205), which would restrict the use of any U.S. funds, as well as the “voice, vote and influence” of the United States, in negotiating a United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.  The legislation also includes Sense of the Congress language that states that “the sovereignty of the United States and the constitutionally protected freedoms of American gun owners must be upheld and not be undermined by the Arms Trade Treaty.”

“Many gun owners are wary of any United Nations proposition that might infringe on their constitutional right to bear arms.  I share their concerns.  This legislation sends the Obama administration a very clear signal that it must be vigilant about protecting those rights,” Cochran said.

“This legislation helps protect the Second Amendment rights of all Americans,” said Wicker.  “We must continue to stand up for the rights of gun owners.  The Arms Trade Treaty should not be used as a backdoor approach for limiting the lawful right to bear arms.”

S.2205, introduced by Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), was written in response to the Obama administration’s decision in late 2009 to sanction United States participation in Arms Trade Treaty negotiations.  The United Nations negotiators could finalize a pact by July 2012, producing a treaty that establishes “common international standards for the import, export, and transfer of conventional arms.” Concerns have been raised that the scope of the treaty could include the regulation of civilian firearms and ammunition.

“An Arms Trade Treaty that regulates the domestic manufacture, possession, or purchase of civilian firearms and ammunition would infringe on the rights of United States citizens protected under the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States,” the legislation states.

The legislation has been referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Seventeen Senators are currently cosponsoring the Moran bill.

In July 2011, Cochran and Wicker were among 44 Senators who signed a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that indicated their intent to oppose ratification of an Arms Trade Treaty that restricts the second amendment rights of Americans in any way.  This level of opposition in the Senate is sufficient to stop ratification of a treaty, which requires approval from two-thirds of the Senate.