WASHINGTON — Oklahoma lawmakers have joined an effort by the National Rifle Association to fight potential limitations on gun ownership and sales in the United States as part of an international arms treaty being negotiated at the United Nations.
Both Oklahoma senators and three of the state's five U.S. House members have signed letters to the Obama administration expressing concerns about a treaty that supporters say would be aimed at restricting the flow of conventional arms to terrorist groups, criminals, oppressive regimes and insurgents linked to human rights abuses.
A letter sent last month by 130 U.S. House members, including Reps. Tom Cole, R-Moore, James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, and John Sullivan, R-Tulsa, raised concerns that the treaty could violate the 2nd Amendment, impede U.S. arm sales to allies such as Israel and Taiwan and impose “onerous” reporting requirements on defense-related manufacturers.
A United Nations conference on the Arms Trade Treaty held discussions this week; conference negotiations are expected to last through July 27.
The National Rifle Association has been raising concerns about the treaty talks since the Obama administration agreed in 2009 to participate.
The group's executive director, Wayne LaPierre, addressed the conference on Wednesday, saying that the treaty must not apply to civilian firearms.
“Let there be no confusion,” LaPierre said. “Any treaty that includes civilian firearms ownership in its scope will be met with the NRA's greatest force of opposition.”
He said that two-thirds of the U.S. Senate would have to ratify any treaty and that 58 of the 100 senators already had objected to a treaty that includes civilian arms.
Rep. Dan Boren, D-Muskogee, a member of the NRA board of directors, said Friday, “Our sovereignty and protecting the rights of American citizens must come first when negotiating any treaty. I call upon the Obama administration to swiftly reject this U.N. treaty if the final version contains provisions that infringe on the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”