Obama Pushes Anti-Gun Treaty: Obama Has Said That He Will Push for Ratification of a Gun Treaty. He Says the Treaty Will Stop the International Proliferation of Guns; Opponents Say It's Backdoor Gun Control

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After meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon in Mexico City on April 16, President Barack Obama announced that he will seek U.S. Senate ratification of the "Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms" treaty, also known by its Spanish acronym CIFTA. The gun-control treaty was signed in 1997 by former President Bill Clinton, but it must still be ratified by a two-thirds majority vote of the Senate for the United States to become a party to it. Supporters of the treaty say it does not conflict with the Second Amendment or the right to bear arms, but would help combat illegal arms trafficking and defeat Mexico's powerful drug cartels.

Critics of the treaty, supporters of the Second Amendment, have blasted the agreement as a dangerous infringement on the right to keep and bear arms and as another attack on U.S. sovereignty. According to opponents, the measure would create a national database of gun owners in America that could then be accessed by other signatory countries and the United Nations. It would even provide for the extradition of people found to be in violation of the terms, like an American gun dealer whose merchandise turns up in Mexico.

"It would clear the way for imposing a national gun registry [and] would overturn the current prohibition on keeping centralized firearms records by the federal government," explained Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America. "It reflects a deep distrust that the government of the United States has had towards the people." The organization claims on its website that the treaty could force regular citizens to obtain a federal license just to reload their ammunition or modify their firearms. The National Rifle Association has issued a statement indicating that it will "vigorously oppose any international effort to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding American gun owners," and that anti-gun advocates will try to use the treaty to attack gun ownership in America. Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre of the NRA noted in an interview with Reuters that enforcing existing laws is the answer, adding, "Everything these drug cartels are doing involving firearms is illegal on both sides of the border already."

The treaty has already been ratified by 30 countries out of 34 in the Organization of American States (OAS), including the Dominican Republic, which signed at the end of April. Jose Miguel Insulza, the secretary general of the OAS, noted at the signing that the treaty "particularly stresses the needs for arms control; arms confiscation; regulating authorizations and licenses for export, import and transit; and strengthening controls at export points." He added that "it was with great satisfaction" that he received the news about Obama prioritizing the treaty. Countries that have not yet ratified the treaty include Canada and Jamaica.

Gearing Up for a Fight

"As President Calderon and I discussed, I am urging the Senate in the United States to ratify an inter-American treaty known as CIFTA to curb small arms trafficking that is a source of so many of the weapons used in this drug war," President Obama proclaimed in Mexico City in April. He also incorrectly repeated the falsehood that 90 percent of guns in the hands of Mexican drug cartels come from America. (In actuality, according to ATF special agent William Newell, about 17 percent of guns associated with crime in Mexico came from the United States. And this figure has not been broken down to see how many came from civilian gun shops and how many were purchased from the U.S. military by Mexico's government.)

According to Denis McDonough, director of Strategic Communications at the White House's National Security Council, Obama has already included CIFTA on a list of high-priority treaties submitted to the Senate. "We're going to be very focused on this. It's going to be a top priority," Obama explained. …