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Miss. Senators Opposed to U.N. Arms Trade Treaty that Treads on American Rights

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today announced their support for a resolution that expresses the unequivocal unwillingness of the Senate to ratify any United Nations Arms Trade Treaty that does not protect the Second Amendment rights of Americans.

The protection of the Constitutional right to bear arms is just one condition outlined in S.Con.Res.7, which both Cochran and Wicker are cosponsoring. Introduced by Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), the resolution expresses the opinion of Congress regarding conditions that must be met for the United States to become a signatory to the proposed treaty or any similar agreement on international arms trade. The resolution currently has 32 cosponsors.

Both Wicker and Cochran last week voted for an amendment to a 2014 Budget Resolution that that would prevent the United States from entering into the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty. The amendment to S.Con.Res.8 passed on a 53-46 vote.

"The Senate has already gone on record in stating that an Arms Trade Treaty has no hope, especially if it does not specifically protect the individual right to bear arms and American sovereignty. It would be pointless for the President to sign such a treaty and expect the Senate to go along. We won't ratify it," Cochran said.

"The Senate has a constitutional responsibility to provide advice and consent on treaties," said Wicker. "Protecting Americans' basic freedoms, including the right to bear arms, is part of that obligation. As the Senate has made clear, the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty threatens to infringe this fundamental right."

The resolution is another response from Senators following President Obama's post-reelection announcement that his administration would reengage in Arms Trade Treaty negotiations. S.Con.Res.7 states the sense of the Congress that the "Arms Trade Treaty fails to expressly recognize the fundamental, individual right to keep and to bear arms and the individual right of personal self-defense, as well as the legitimacy of hunting, sports shooting, and other lawful activities pertaining to the private ownership of firearms and related materials, and thus risks infringing on freedoms protected by the Second Amendment."

In addition to addressing individual rights, the resolution also addresses the potential for such a treaty to result in regulatory burdens on American businesses. It is also critical of treaty's treatment of the United States internationally, including putting free democracies on equal terms with totalitarian regimes and subject to an international implementation organization.

The United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty is currently engaged in a new effort to craft an agreement to regulate international arms sales. Current text of the treaty does not, the Senators, contend protect the Second Amendment rights or exempt civilian firearms from its scope.

Efforts to write an Arms Trade Treaty collapsed last July not long after Cochran and Wicker joined a majority of Senators in a letter to President Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that outlined ongoing concerns and opposition to the U.N. effort. The level of opposition represented by the letter was sufficient to stop ratification of a treaty, which requires approval from two-thirds of the Senate.

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