Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 3, 2015

Arms Treaty Stymied by Second Amendment Concerns in Senate

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Tester said in a letter Monday that he opposes the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

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.”

“We take our constitutional obligation as U.S. Senators to provide advice and consent seriously. And although we appreciate the Administration’s work to make this Treaty more amenable to the United States’ interests, we believe it falls short,” the senators wrote. “Because of unaddressed concerns that this Treaty’s obligations could undermine our nation’s sovereignty and the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans, we would oppose the Treaty if it were to come before the U.S. Senate.”

The National Rifle Association, which has long opposed the treaty, praised the senators’ letter.

“This letter sends a clear message to President Obama and Secretary Kerry that the Arms Trade Treaty will not receive the 67 votes in the U.S. Senate necessary for ratification,” NRA Executive Director Chris W. Cox said in a Tuesday statement.

The letter from the four Democrats followed a letter sent last week by 50 senators, including 5 Democrats, expressing opposition to the treaty.

“The treaty includes only a weak non-binding reference to the lawful ownership and use of, and trade in firearms, and recognizes none of these activities, much less individual self-defense, as fundamental individual rights,” wrote the group of 50, led by Kansas Republican Jerry Moran, West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin III and Oklahoma Republican James M. Inhofe.

The 50 signatories on that letter include Sen. Jeff Chiesa, R-N.J. The appointed senator’s term will soon expire with the seating of Cory Booker.

Booker has a record of supporting gun control efforts, which means the actual vote count in opposition to the treaty may soon be 53.

Comments (35)

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  1. Sally

    Oct. 22, 2013
    2:39 p.m.

    The NRA? Let me guess. The gun lobbyb threatened to pull all their money out of the Senate races if these men voted for world peace?

    • MaxvonDrok

      Oct. 22, 2013
      6:13 p.m.

      Sally: More likely the senate realized if they vote in the UN arms treaty, (thus nullifying the 2nd Amd). there are now 95+ MILLIONS gun owners that would VIOLENTLY OBJECT, resulting in a Revolutionary Blood Bath not seen since the War Between the States. .

      • Noah

        Oct. 23, 2013
        3:25 p.m.

        Well said MaxvonDork, in regards to your reply to Sally. Its sad to see a Liberal’s, anti patriotic, anti Constitution and void of any reality thought process making nonsense statements.

    • Joseph Friday

      Oct. 23, 2013
      7:16 p.m.

      Sally, you are entitled to your opinion however asinine, unpatriotic and traitorous it may be. Have a miserable rest of your life!

    • ltmil7240

      Oct. 23, 2013
      8:01 p.m.

      well I was going to reply to MS. Sally. but u can’t fix stu(*&^^.
      also think you 3 covered it well.

  2. gunnut1970

    Oct. 22, 2013
    2:52 p.m.

    This was hardly a vote for world peace. This was a vote to disarm the public while allowing the armament of “legitimate heads of state” (read: Imams, dictators, kings, emperors, and strongmen) worldwide.

  3. williamdiamon

    Oct. 23, 2013
    12:28 p.m.

    The United Nations is not made up of people from around the world. It consists of governments from around the world, the enterprises meant to control the people of the world. Gun-control is an evil and draconian way to control these people, it reduces the common man to the status of herd animals. This is why governments propagate it.

  4. Joseph Friday

    Oct. 23, 2013
    7:14 p.m.

    If the gorp in the white house really wants a revolution, let the games begin when he and his pals like reid, schumer, and their ilk try and force this POS down we the peoples throats!

  5. LeonardH

    Oct. 23, 2013
    11:13 p.m.

    While this treaty probably will not be ratified during _this_ session of the Senate, but until this, or a later, President retracts the signature affixed to the treaty any later Senate _can_ ratify it.
    Do not be complacent about _this_ Senate failing to ratify it, all that needs happen is for another liberal of Obama’s ilk be elected with a Senate full of fellow travelers for it to be ratified.
    There is _no_ “statute of limitations” on ratifying treaties, folks.

  6. spencer60

    Oct. 24, 2013
    8:57 a.m.

    Hopefully this will die on the vine, although ideally it would be repudiated so it won’t come up again in the future.

    Even Canada won’t sign this treaty, yet the US hops right on board with it?


  7. Brian James

    Oct. 28, 2013
    2:06 p.m.

    The problem remains that until the Senate gets the chance to vote it down, we (the US) will follow the terms. This has bee the historical norm and is in practice for other treaties that have never been voted on.

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