WRITTEN BY CHRISS W. STREET
It is amusing that the United States, as the world’s number one arms smuggler to friendly places like Libya and Syria, would lead the effort to pass the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (“ATT”) regulating and controlling the export of weaponry. Advocates contend ATT regulate the sale of assault weapons, such as tanks, combat vehicles, aircraft, attack helicopters and ammunition for such weapons to dangerous rogue countries who may pose a terrorist threat. But ATT only prohibits export of weapons to nation-states; it does not prohibit export to terrorists. What ATT does do is internationally define regulated weapons to include small arms and the ammunition for “such weapons”. ATT compliance will require national gun micro-stamping and registry.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted ATT as “Agenda Item 94: General and Complete Disarmament” by a vote of 154 to 3 with 23 abstentions. In the words of the General Assembly President, John William Ashe of Antigua and Barbuda “The historic dimension of this day” is that a global arms trade treaty is “for the first time the subject of action in this Chamber.” Last July, the United States blocked an agreement because negotiators wanted a stronger agreement. The General Assembly President noted the Conference on Disarmament had not produced significant “results in over a decade.
Syria was one of the three votes against ATT. They pointed out that the treaty only regulated state to state sales and conveniently failed to “categorically ban” supplying weapons to “non-state terrorists” that fail to seek U.N. approval for their mayhem. These are diplomatic code words for why are the U.S, Qatar and Saudi Arabia not prohibited from smuggling weapons to the supposed Free Syrian Army.
Indonesia abstained from voting for ATT, because the treaty text contained “substantive deficiencies”, such as not allowing nations to import weapons for self-defense against armed non-state actors. Cuba stated: “This is a document that is not balanced”, since failing to prohibit weapons transfers to unauthorized non-state actors is a flagrant violation of the principles of the United Nations. These are more code words for, we are also afraid of the CIA arming rebels and terrorists.
Nicaragua stated that they were abstaining, because they similarly opposed transfers to unauthorized non-state actors and regretted that the right to self-defense was not recognized. Their Ambassador noted that unlawful weapons transfers in the 1980s resulted in many thousands of Nicaraguans being killed. These are code words for, the United States CIA and Russian KGB armed rebels and counter-rebels slaughtered us.
What ATT really does is supplant the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms (“PoA”) passed in 2001 by adding ammunition for small arms as a regulated item for the first time. Although the PoA covered a broad range of controls on export sales, ATT expands the control to include domestic transit, brokering and technology transfer. These legally binding national-level commitments include establishment of laws, regulations, and administrative procedures governing weapons and ammunition transfers within a nation’s borders. ATT mandates a 10 year registry of ownership of covered weapons, which appears to be any weapon.
To comply with this record keeping would require micro-stamping, which involves the use of laser technology to engrave a microscopic marking onto every gun’s firing pin and breech face. Hence when you buy complete AR-15 rifles and fire even a single shot or round from them, the etchings will uniquely mark the shell cartridge when a bullet is fired, creating a forensic ballistics signature on the shell casing.
California passed AB 1471 in 2007 that would have made micro-stamping mandatory for all weapons by 2010 based on claims the technology would enable law enforcement to match fired cartridge cases from a crime scene and track illegal gun sales. The technology vendor claimed the cost per gun to comply with the legislation would only be between $0.50 and $8.50 per gun, depending on manufactured volume, and would be highly reliable long-term since firing pins are “nearly as hard as a diamond”.
But uproar from gun owners forced a suspension of the law. Critics pointed out that criminals could steal guns and collect discarded brass from firing ranges, then “salt” crime scenes with someone else’s micro-stamped shell cases to create themselves an alibi and provide false evidence against innocent people.
Although guns manufactured before the law would grandfathered as legal to own, failure to micro-stamp parts would make of a firearm “unsafe” under the California law and illegal to sell, give or lend under existing law. Furthermore, it was discovered that the sole-source technology vendor had not subjected micro-stamping to independent testing and micro-stamped marks were substantially less reliable than advertised.
The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty will not stop many terrorists, since terrorists are usually not nations. Most governments around the world want to disarm their population to maintain their coercive control. As I pointed out two weeks ago in Cypriot Bailout Without Second Amendment, it is much easier for countries to rob their citizens when they are disarmed.
CHRISS STREET & PAUL PRESTON
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