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Mr. MORAN. Mr. President, our Nation's Founding Fathers amended the U.S. Constitution more than two centuries ago to guarantee a bill of rights for its citizens. Since then, our democracy has stood strong and Americans have enjoyed liberties and freedoms unparalleled in the world, including the fundamental right to keep and bear arms guaranteed by the second amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Today our freedoms and our country's sovereignty are in danger of being undermined by the United Nations. To ensure our liberties remain for generations, today and for the future, I am offering legislation to protect the rights of American gun owners from the effects of any U.N. arms treaty.
In October of 2009, at the U.N. General Assembly, the Obama administration voted for the United States to participate in negotiating an arms trade treaty--a reversal of the previous administration's position. This treaty is supposedly intended to establish ``common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms,'' including tanks, helicopters, and missiles. However, by threatening to include civilian firearms within its scope, the arms trade treaty would restrict the lawful private ownership of firearms in our country. Whether that is true depends upon what the treaty actually says.
Less than 2 months from now, the U.N. Conference on Arms Trade Treaty will take place in New York, and that presumably will determine the language that is ultimately included as the treaty will be finalized for its adoption.
Given where the process stands today, I am concerned that this treaty will infringe upon the second amendment rights of American gun owners. I am also concerned it will be used by other countries that do not share our freedoms to wrongly place the burden of controlling international crime and terrorism on law-abiding American citizens.
Currently, proposals being considered by the preparatory committee at the U.N. would adversely affect U.S. citizens.
I have several concerns with these proposals. First, there have been regular calls for bans or restrictions on the civilian ownership of guns Americans use to hunt, target shoot and defend themselves.
Second, by requiring firearms to be accounted for throughout their lifespan, the Arms Trade Treaty could lead to nationwide gun registration. This despite evidence that the costly bureaucratic system has been a complete failure in solving any crimes or stopping criminals from getting access to guns everywhere it's been tried.
Third, other proposals could require the marking and tracking of all ammunition, including ammunition for civilian sale and use.
To make sure that our country's sovereignty and the rights of American gun owners are protected as the administration negotiates this treaty, I have sponsored S. 2205, the Second Amendment Sovereignty Act. This legislation is simple.
First, it says that the administration cannot use the ``voice, vote and influence of the United States'' to negotiate a treaty that in any way restricts the second amendment rights of American citizens. This is a commonsense requirement that even the Obama administration maintains.
In an August letter I received from the U.S. State Department, they wrote:
The Administration will not agree to a treaty that will infringe on the constitutional rights of American citizens ..... We will not agree to treaty provisions that would alter or diminish existing rights of American citizens to manufacture, assemble, possess, transfer, or purchase firearms, ammunition, and related items.
This bill will hold them to that pledge.
Second, S. 2205 specifically prohibits the administration from seeking to negotiate a treaty that regulates the domestic manufacture, possession, or purchase of firearms and ammunition. In other words, this bill seeks to maintain the sovereignty of our laws within our borders. U.N. member states regularly argue that no treaty controlling the transfer of arms internationally can be effective without controls on transfers inside a country's own borders. This is unacceptable.
Again, the administration claims to agree, saying it ``will oppose any effort to address internal transfers.'' Congress should hold them to this pledge. At stake is our country's autonomy and the rights of American citizens protected under the Constitution.
More specifically, this legislation seeks to ensure that U.S. citizens will not be subjected to restrictions on the use or possession of civilian firearms and ammunition. It prohibits the administration from negotiating a treaty that would result in domestic regulations on civilian firearms like hunting rifles that are often mischaracterized as ``military weapons,'' ``small arms,'' or ``light arms.'' Civilian firearms must be excluded from the Arms Trade Treaty.
Preparatory committee meetings have made it clear that many U.N. member states aim to craft an extremely broad treaty that includes civilian firearms within its scope. For example, Mexico and several countries in Central and South America have called for the treaty to cover ``all types of conventional weapons (regardless of their purpose), including small arms and light weapons, ammunition, components, parts, technology and related materials.''
If those provisions were included in a treaty, that treaty would be incredibly difficult to enforce, and would pose dangers to all U.S. businesses and individuals involved in any aspect of the firearms industry, from manufacturers to dealers to consumers.
I urge my colleagues in the Senate to adopt this commonsense legislation. On July 22 of last year, 57 U.S. Senators joined me in reminding the Obama administration that our firearm freedoms are not negotiable.
We notified President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton of our intent to oppose ratification of a treaty that in any way restricts Americans' second amendment rights. Our opposition is strong enough to block the treaty from passage, as treaties submitted to the U.S. Senate require two-thirds approval to be ratified.
As the treaty process continues, the Second Amendment Sovereignty Act seeks to further reinforce to the administration that our country's sovereignty and firearm freedoms must not be infringed upon by an international organization made up of many countries with little respect for gun rights. America leads the world in export standards to ensure arms are transferred for legitimate purposes and my bill will make certain that law-abiding Americans are not wrongfully punished.
In the days ahead, I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure an Arms Trade Treaty--if negotiations result in one--that undermines the Constitutional rights of American gun owners is dead on arrival in the Senate.
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