Buyers, beware: UN Arms Trade Treaty will regulate individual gun ownership

by John Lott,  |  published on March 29, 2013

The U.N.’s Arms Trade Treaty, which seemed dead last July, is beginning to wrap up negotiations. The Obama administration is committed to getting it passed. Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed: “The United States is steadfast in its commitment to achieve a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty.”

The treaty was resurrected on Nov. 8 – the very day after President Obama’s re-election. Very conveniently, that the Obama administration delayed the U.N. vote in favor of renewing negotiations delayed until the president was no longer constrained by public opinion.

The Arms Trade Treaty will regulate individual gun ownership all across the world. Each country will be obligated to “maintain a national control list that shall include [rifles and handguns]” and “to regulate brokering taking place under its jurisdiction for conventional arms.” In fact, the new background check rules approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee include just those rules — a registration system and a record of all transfers of guns.

But nations themselves will be responsible for enforcing the rules. That means Iran, China, Russia – the leading countries for the truly troubling parts of the international arms trade – are supposed to curb it. Does anyone actually believe these nations will actually enforce these regulations against themselves?

Democracies are a different story. Many of their civilians have freedoms to lose. And they are much more transparent on whether they are actually honoring the rules that apply to their governments.

Just like with gun control, in general, it is only the “good guys” who will obey the new rules. The U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, if passed, would only be effective against those countries that choose to obey them.

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