Wednesday, October 16, 2013

About That Arms Trade Treaty

Controlling your and my rifle is important but brake pads for those grounded Iranian F-14 Tomahawks are not. If a story published in the Philadelphia Inquirer by the lefty journalism group Propublica is correct, then that is the intent of the Obama Administration.

Starting yesterday, a number of items that previously had been controlled by the State Department through its arms control regulations will be transferred to the control of the Commerce Department which has weaker controls on exports of these items.
In the current system, every manufacturer and exporter of military equipment has to register with the State Department and get a license for each planned export. U.S. officials scrutinize each proposed deal to make sure the receiving country isn’t violating human rights and to determine the risk of the shipment winding up with terrorists or another questionable group.

Under the new system, whole categories of equipment encompassing tens of thousands of items will move to the Commerce Department, where they will be under more “flexible” controls. Final rules have been issued for six of 19 categories of equipment and more will roll out in the coming months. Some military equipment, such as fighter jets, drones, and other systems and parts, will stay under the State Department’s tighter oversight.

Commerce will do interagency human rights reviews before allowing exports, but only as a matter of policy, whereas in the State Department it is required by law.
While spare parts that will now be regulated by the Commerce Department may not be exported directly to such rogue nations as Iran and Syria, the controls on re-exports of these spare parts will have much less regulation. Spare parts are the key to keeping aging fleets of jet fighters in the air and not the ground.

The story does note that the one area in which the Obama Administration refused to switch to the Commerce Department was, you guessed it, firearms and ammunition.
In one area, the administration does appear to have temporarily backed off – firearms and ammunition. Any decision to loosen exports for firearms could have conflicted with the president’s call for enhanced domestic gun control.

According to a memo obtained by the Wall Street Journal last spring, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security both opposed draft versions of revisions to the firearms category. (The Justice Department press office is out of operation due to the government shutdown, and the Department of Homeland Security did not respond to requests for comment.) Shifting firearms was also likely to be a lightning rod for arms control groups. As the New York Times’ C.J. Chivers has documented, small arms trafficking has been the scourge of conflicts around the world.

Draft rules for firearms and ammunitions were ready in mid-2012, according to Lawrence Keane, general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade group for gun manufacturers. The Commerce Department even sent representatives to an industry export conference to preview manufacturers on the new system they might fall under.

But since the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., last December, no proposed rule has been published.

Keane thinks the connection is irrelevant. “This has nothing to do with domestic gun control legislation. We’re talking about exports,” he said. “Our products have not moved forward, and we’re disappointed by that.”
Read the whole article to see the hypocrisy of the Obama Administration.

In related news to the Arms Trade Treaty, a number of Senators and Congressmen have come out in opposition to the ratification of the ATT. The treaty needs 67 votes in favor for it to be ratified. So far 50 Senators have come out in opposition to it.

From the NRA on the letter from 50 Senators and 181 Congressmen to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry opposing the ATT:
Fairfax, Va. – Today, a bipartisan group of 50 members of the U.S. Senate and 181 members of the U.S. House sent a clear message to President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and the United Nations that the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty will not be ratified. Earlier this year, the U.N. adopted and President Obama directed Secretary Kerry to sign this treaty, which does not exclude civilian arms from its scope and therefore directly threatens the Second Amendment.

“The Obama administration has repeatedly demonstrated its contempt for our fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “On behalf of our 5 million members, the NRA would like to thank those who signed these letters for their principled stand in defending the Second Amendment freedoms of all law-abiding Americans.”

The Senate effort in opposition to the ATT was led by Sens. Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Joe Manchin (D-WV). Their letter, signed by 50 senators, states clearly that “as members of the Senate, we pledge to oppose the ratification of this treaty, and we give notice that we do not regard the U.S. as bound to uphold its object and purpose.”

A bipartisan group of 181 members of the U.S. House sent a separate letter of opposition. That effort was led by Reps. Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Collin Peterson (D-MN).

“The NRA will continue to fight against ratification of the U.N. ATT, which undermines the constitutional rights of law-abiding Americans,” concluded Cox. “With 67 votes in the U.S. Senate being necessary for ratification, these letters send a clear message to President Obama and Secretary Kerry that this attempt to undermine our Right to Keep and Bear Arms will be met with strong opposition.”

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