Wednesday, May 30, 2012

HR 5846 - The Second Amendment Sovereignty Act (Updated)

Representatives Ben Quayle (R-AZ) and Denny Rehberg (R-MT) have introduced HR 5846 - the Second Amendment Sovereignty Act - which is intended to counter the UN's proposed Arms Trade Treaty. During the Bush Administration, the US actively worked against this treaty as they felt it violated the Second Amendment rights of its citizens. The Obama Administration, by contrast, is a willing participant in this effort.

While the text of HR 5846 has not been released yet, Rep. Quayle did have this to say:
WASHINGTON (DC) – Congressman Ben Quayle today proposed the Second Amendment Sovereignty Act of 2012 in order to protect American gun owners from potential regulation from the United Nation’s Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The Arms Trade Treaty is to be finalized by the UN this year, and could potentially contain a number of provisions which directly conflict with the constitutional rights of American citizens. This bill blocks funding to negotiate, or implement this treaty.

“The second amendment is an individual constitutional right and we must never allow that right to be trampled on by an international treaty” Quayle said. “This UN treaty is a direct threat to American sovereignty and the constitutional rights of all Americans.

Among other faulty provisions, the Arms Trade Treaty might require participating nations to establish national gun registries to ensure that domestically produced weapons aren’t exported. The treaty also requires that nations that allow the production of firearms within their borders set up a compensation fund to pay for violence that occurs in other nations.

Quayle continued, “law abiding American gun owners should never have to pay compensation or damages for violence in foreign countries that they had absolutely nothing to do with. This is typical United Nations overreach, and the United States should not allow it under any circumstances.”

Congressman Quayle has been an ardent proponent of the right of Americans to bear arms. “Congress needs to put its foot down, and make clear that it, not the United Nations, is the only body with the constitutional right to impose laws in the United States” Quayle concluded.
In addition, Rep. Rehberg successfully proposed an amendment last week to the FY2013 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that would cut off funding for any effort to advocate or agree to any of the provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty. His amendment passed on a 30-20 vote in committee.

From Rehberg's release:
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Montana's Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today successfully added an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2013 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill to block funding to advocate for or agree to any provision of a United Nations (UN) small arms treaty that would restrict the Second Amendment rights of American citizens or further regulate U.S. firearms users or manufacturers. The amendment was adopted in committee by a vote of 30-20.

“The Bill of Rights are simply not subject to the authority of the United Nations or any other international body,” said Rehberg, a member of the Second Amendment Task Force with an A+ Rating from the National Rifle Association. “President Obama and his Senate allies have waged a proxy war on gun rights, appointing anti-gun Supreme Court justices and deferring to international laws. But the Second Amendment is crystal clear, and I’m going to do everything I can to protect law abiding gun owners from President Obama’s dangerous agenda.”

The UN is currently planning on entering into negotiations over an international Arms Trade Treaty that would provide a standard for regulating arms sales internationally. For advocates of the Second Amendment, this poses a number of problems from actual gun rights to a question of sovereignty.

While the previous administration was reliably opposed to entering into talks on a UN Arms Trade Treaty, the anti-gun Obama Administration reversed that position and on October 30, 2009, the US voted in the General Assembly to support UN-sponsored talks on a treaty to regulate the $55 billion-a-year trade in conventional weapons.

While a treaty would require Senate ratification, the Senate has lately been eager to rubber stamp President Obama’s treaty agenda, including most notably, New START which requires unilateral US nuclear disarmament.

“Taxpayer funds should not be used to lobby against our constitutional rights. Law-abiding Americans have the right to keep and bear arms. The scope of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty could drastically undermine this constitutional right. The NRA firmly believes that the U.N. should never be allowed to be the arbiter of American freedom,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director for NRA's Institute for Legislative Action. “The NRA would like to thank Congressman Rehberg for his leadership and for offering this vital amendment in support of the Second Amendment.”

Of course, we are portrayed as being part of the Tin-Foil Hat Brigade by Think Progress which holds that there is no treaty and even if there were one, it wouldn't impinge upon our Second Amendment rights.

I hate to tell the journalists at Think Progress but reliance upon Snopes is not the be-all and end-all that they portray it to be. There is an Arms Trade Treaty being drafted at the United Nations, the Obama Administration has been a willing participant, and groups such as SAF and the NRA have sent NGO representatives to these meetings.

UPDATE: The text of HR 5846 has been released.

To prohibit funding to negotiate a United Nations Arms Trade Treaty that restricts the Second Amendment rights of United States citizens.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the `Second Amendment Sovereignty Act of 2012'.


(a) Findings- Congress makes the following findings:

(1) In October 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the United States support and participation in negotiating the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, to be finalized in 2012, signaling a shift in United States policy.

(2) An Arms Trade Treaty that regulates the domestic manufacturer, possession, or purchase of civilian firearms and ammunition would infringe on the rights of United States citizens protected under the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

(b) Sense of Congress- It is the sense of Congress that the sovereignty of the United States and the constitutionally protected freedoms of American gun owners must be upheld and not be undermined by the Arms Trade Treaty.


No funds may be obligated or expended to use the voice, vote, and influence of the United States, in connection with negotiations for a United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, to restrict in any way the rights of United States citizens under the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States, or to otherwise regulate domestic manufacture, assembly, possession, use, transfer, or purchase of firearms, ammunition, or related items, including small arms, light weapons, or related materials.


  1. A couple of potential issues:

    - If the bill blocks funding for anything that entails negotiating anything that "restricts the 2A rights of...", the the definition is up for grabs and it does nothing. Plausible deniability.

    - Regardless of how it is phrased, if the bill blocks funding for negotiation on the treaty, it is probably unconstitutional because such neogtiation is a constitutional prerogative of the President. The Senate gets final say. The House gets shut out. If it was as easy as the House simply denying funding for treaty negotiation, then they could control the entire treaty process by simply preventing a President from entering negotiations - and then interfering with the Senate's duty to review such treaty. The House would have absolute veto, which is not what the Constitution envisions.

    Text not available yet, so we'll see. Good idea if it can be pulled off, though.

    The most likely to succeed method is to block funding for the UN so long as they continue to maintain certain positions. This is perfectly legit and won't come close to the line, provided the funding ban is not tied to any treaty. It could just be a, "we're not giving the UN money so long as they maintain position X."

    Such a position would be perfectly legit, and in my mind, long overdue.

  2. Another note: the US does not need to ratify this treaty for it to become a menace. If other nations ratify it they are likely prevented from exporting and/or importing firearms into and out of the USA for civilian uses. This would harm buyers and sellers in the USA. We are not alone in the world and we are susceptible to international supply/demand constraints more than anyone else simply because we are the biggest customer.

    We do not know what is in this because the real terms are not negotiated in front of NRA and the SAF. But if it includes "component" restrictions then everything from brass to lead to powder components are going to be verboten if they are introduced into the civilian stream of commerce.

    Point is we need this defeated on a global scale. For that, we will need a US Congress to withhold the one thing the UN craves more than anything other than power: US Money.

  3. Patrick is correct on BOTH comments!

  4. Updated comment: Right idea; wrong method.

    The Executive gets to negotiate treaties - even ones we do not like. Then Legislative gets to smack it down via the Senate. Then the Judicial gets to handle any arguments about whether it even works under our law, because no treaty can scrub the Constitution.

    There is a process. These knuckleheads are trying to circumvent it.

    But they know what I know: this is going nowhere. It's just red meat in an election year. They'd rather put forward meaningless go-nowhere bills than do real things, like changing 922 NFA rules or pushing reciprocity. We need to stop thanking these guys for simple pandering. We need to go back and tell them, "If you really want to help, go do this instead..."

  5. I think what is needed is just a bill to prohibit funding to the UN if they pass the arms trade treaty. Let them know that we will completely cut off their cash if they proceed down this road. I have read that the US funds 25% of the UN so seems like that would be the most effective route to put them back in their place.

  6. the united nations has no rights over the us constitution
    and hillary probably would ignite a revolution

  7. thanks for sharing.