August 5, 2021

Kerry signs arms trade treaty opposed by Senate and the NRA

Secretary of State John Kerry signed a UN arms trade treaty Wednesday that’s opposed by the gun lobby and a majority of senators.

The timing of the U.S. signature aims to give the treaty an international boost in conjunction with a ceremony on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. The United States is the 89th country to sign the treaty since it opened for signatures in June, with a dozen more expected to join by the end of the day.

8957235Republicans say the treaty is dead on arrival in the Senate and won’t be ratified.

“The ATT raises significant legislative and constitutional questions,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations panel, wrote in a letter to President Obama sent Tuesday. “Any act to implement this treaty, provisionally or otherwise, before the Congress provides its advice and consent would be inconsistent with the United States Constitution, law, and practice.”

Human rights groups cheered the administration’s move.

“The US is the world’s foremost arms exporter, and US signature is a powerful step demonstrating the United States’ commitment to preventing mass atrocities and protecting civilians from armed conflict,” Oxfam America President Raymond Offenheiser said in a statement. “We hope that the US signing will lead other major exporters to get off the fence and sign the ATT as soon as possible.”

Kerry had already announced in June that the administration would sign the treaty as soon as it was satisfied with its translations into the different official U.N. languages.

The National Rifle Association argues the pact is a U.N.-backed gun grab. An amendment from Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) to the Senate Budget resolution in March blocking the U.S. from joining the treaty garnered 53 “yes” votes.

Advocates of the treaty say it’s only aimed at regulating international sales to prevent terrorists and other rogue actors from getting their hands on weapons.

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