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Oklahoma senators join letter opposing U.N. Arms Trade Treaty

by Chris Casteel Published: October 15, 2013

Oklahoma Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, and Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, were among 50 senators _ half of the U.S. Senate _ who signed a letter to President Barack Obama on Tuesday saying that the Senate would not ratify the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty recently signed by the administration.
Inhofe said Tuesday, “The Senate spoke out against the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty this past March when 53 Senators voted for my amendment to the Senate budget resolution to block U.S. involvement in the treaty.
“Despite clear opposition, the Obama Administration proceeded in misleading the U.N. and making the United States a signatory nation of this treaty. It is time that the Administration puts this failed effort to rest once and for all and instead focus on the serious economic and national security problems that threaten our country.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, said, “Under no circumstances should this country surrender our gun rights to the control of the United Nations.
“While we can work toward improving the regulation of the international trade of weapons, I am very concerned that the rights of law-abiding Americans would be violated by entering into this agreement. I strongly oppose any treaty that infringes on our Second Amendment rights.”

From a news release issued by Inhofe and Sen. Jerry Moran, R-KS:

The six reasons for opposing ratification of the ATT include:

1. The treaty failed to achieve consensus, and was adopted by majority vote in the U.N. General Assembly. This violates the red line drawn by the Obama Administration;

2. The treaty allows amendments by a three-quarters majority vote, circumventing the power and duty of the U.S. Senate to provide its advice and consent on treaty commitments before they are assumed by the United States;

3. The treaty includes only a weak non-binding reference to the lawful ownership, use of, and trade in firearms, and recognizes none of these activities, much less individual self-defense, as fundamental individual rights. This poses a threat to the Second Amendment;

4. The State Department has acknowledged that the treaty is “ambiguous.” By becoming party to the treaty, the U.S. would therefore be accepting commitments that are inherently unclear;

5. The criteria at the heart of the treaty are vague and easily politicized. They violate the right of the American people, under the Constitution, to freely govern themselves. The language restricts the ability of the United States to conduct its own foreign policy and allows foreign sources of authority to impose judgment or control upon the United States; and

6. The State Department has acknowledged that the treaty includes language that could hinder the United States from fulfilling its strategic, legal and moral commitments to provide arms to key allies such as the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the State of Israel.

The letter is signed by a bipartisan group of 50 U.S. Senators including: Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Jeffrey Chiesa (R-N.J.), Daniel Coats (R-Ind.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Jim Risch (R-Ind.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), David Vitter (R-La.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).


by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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