Yesterday, Senator Jerry Moran (R–KS) gave an important speech at The Heritage Foundation on the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), negotiations on which will open on July 2 in New York.

Through letters to the Administration, legislation, and amendments, Moran has played the leading role in seeking to ensure, with his colleagues in both parties, that the ATT does not infringe on rights protected under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Moran made a valuable contribution by pointing out that concerns about the ATT should not focus only on the Second Amendment. As he noted, the ATT will apply equally to dictatorships and democracies, a dangerous idea that implies that dictatorships have the same right to buy and sell weapons that democracies do.

But in the context of the Second Amendment, the Senator noted that we should not be content with the Administration’s pledge not to negotiate a treaty that infringes on our rights. That is a step forward, but it is not enough. The Senator then set out four criteria that would put flesh on the bones of that pledge.

  1. The ATT should explicitly recognize the legitimacy of hunting, sport shooting, and other lawful activities related to the private ownership of firearms and related materials.
  2. The ATT should not simply contain a vague reference in the preamble to national constitutional protections. Its scope should explicitly exclude small arms, light weapons, and related materials that are defined under domestic law by national authority as legal for private ownership.
  3. The ATT should not contain any open-ended obligations that could imply any need to impose domestic controls on any of these items.
  4. The ATT should explicitly state that any assertion of the right of sovereign states to individual or collective self-defense does not prejudice the inherent right of personal self-defense.

Let’s hope that the Senate, and the Administration, take these concerns seriously, for the U.N. is unlikely to do so.

Shortly after Moran finished his speech, the U.N. released its press kit for the July conference. The kit’s cover letter closes with a sneering criticism of “gun-lobby organizations,” and that tone continues throughout the kit, which makes two things very clear.

First, the U.N. is willing to be a lot more explicit in its criticism of “gun-lobby organizations” than it is of dictators and terrorists. Second, the U.N. isn’t worried that dictators will stop the ATT; it’s worried that Americans concerned about the Second Amendment will do so.