Arms Treaty Stymied by Second Amendment Concerns in Senate

by Niels Lesniewski, Roll Call  |  published on October 30, 2013

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A clear majority of senators now oppose the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.

Because two-thirds of senators would be required to consent to ratification, the fate of the treaty was always in doubt. Now it’s unclear whether the Senate could even proceed to debate the measure.

There’s no way to filibuster a motion to take up a treaty, but a roll call vote may be required to go into executive session to consider it. That would require a simple majority, and it isn’t at all clear the treaty — which would establish new international standards related to trade in conventional weapons — would get over that threshold.

In a Monday letter to President Barack Obama, Democratic Sens. Jon Tester and Max Baucus of Montana joined Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana in announcing opposition to the treaty that Secretary of State John Kerry signed on to on behalf of the Obama administration last month.

The four Democrats say that including small firearms and ammunition in the terms of the agreement “makes the Treaty overly broad.”

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