Published August 05, 2011
A controversial U.N. proposed treaty aimed at regulating guns worldwide has been shrouded by confusion and misinformation.
Known informally as the 'Small Arms Treaty,' its detractors have charged the proposed agreement with secretly trying to take guns out of the hands of Americans and circumventing the 2nd Amendment.
While that is unlikely, a working draft proposal obtained by FoxNews.com contains language that some gun advocates say could have a real impact on American gun makers.
Last month a U.N. committee met in New York and signed off on several provisions, including the creation of a new U.N. agency to regulate international weapon sales, and require countries that host firearms manufacturers to set up a compensation fund for victims of gun violence worldwide.
Tom Mason, who represented the World Forum on the Future of Sports Shooting at the U.N. conference, told FoxNews.com the provisions are worrying.
“No, there are no black helicopters. There is no secret treaty that Hillary Clinton has signed,” Mason said. “But on the other hand, the treaty is a significant threat to gun owners. I think the biggest threat may be the body that would administer the treaty,” he added, referring to a new U.N agency the treaty would create, to be called the “Implementation Support Unit.”
Under the latest draft of the treaty, every country would be required to submit a report to the ISU outlining “all activities undertaken in order to accomplish the implementation of this Treaty, including… domestic laws, regulations and administrative measures.”
It also requires countries to set up their own government agencies to track any guns that could be exported. “Parties shall take all necessary measures to control brokering activities taking place within its territories … to prevent the diversion of exported arms into the illicit market or to unintended end users,” the draft reads.
The vague wording leaves room for interpretation, and a U.N. representative for a major U.S. gun manufacturer who spoke to FoxNews.com on the condition of anonymity told FoxNews.com that he believed it left room for the ISU to declare the registration of all American-made guns to prevent illegal exportation.
“Does this mean it’s going to impose some international gun registration scheme? That could happen here, under the treaty,” said the gun manufacturer representative.
Daniel Prins, chief of the Conventional Arms Branch for the U.N.’s Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA) told FoxNews.com that no provisions have been finalized.
“All the issues remain on the table,” said Prins.
Other gun control supporters who attended the U.N. conference say that American gun owners have nothing to worry about.
“People within the U.S. should not be worried about it unless they sell arms internationally,” Collin Goddard, of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told FoxNews.com. “The whole treaty is to prevent countries from selling guns to other countries that have gross violations of human rights.”
Goddard said that concerns about a possible national gun registry is ridiculous because the intent of the treaty was only to restrict arms sales between countries. “This does not cover weapons that are kept internally,” he said, adding that the ISU would be kept efficient.
“They are just trying to establish a regulatory board… Everyone’s worried about another big bureaucracy, and I can understand that. But the committee is trying to keep it small and lean,” said Goddard.
The gun manufacturer representative said his client doesn’t buy that. “It’s pretty clear that it’s going to impose major new administrative burdens.”
An especially costly potential regulation discussed at the conference last month would require gun makers to engrave sequential tracings on every one of some 3 billion bullets produced in the U.S. each year.
And that, he said, would make guns more expensive for everyone.
“Manufacturers would have to pass on the cost to civilian customers.” Another controversial part of the treaty draft establishes a compensation fund for victims of gun violence, which would transfer money from countries that export weapons to countries that had suffered gun violence.
“Countries should support victims of any kind of victimization,” Goddard said, noting that it was a big issue at the July treaty conference. But it is included in the draft treaty only as a voluntary provision for each country.
Goddard added that he did not believe that the fund would make it into the final version of the treaty, in part because the U.S. delegation opposed the measure. The U.S. government’s delegation has opposed restrictions on civilian weapons in general. Canada has done the same.
The State Department did not respond to calls for comment.
But Versnel said that the vast majority of countries support additional regulations on civilian weapons.
“Just about everybody is pushing for more,” Julianne Versnel, the director of operations for the Second Amendment Foundation, who also attended the conference, told FoxNews.com. “It's Europe, it's Africa, it's the Caribbean, it's South America. Mexico has been at the forefront.”
Regardless of what regulations other countries agree to, the treaty only becomes law in the U.S. if it gets a two-thirds majority in the Senate.
And last month, more than 50 senators signed on to a letter to Secretary of State Clinton saying that they will not vote for any treaty that restricts civilian arms.
The NRA is confident that the treaty will not be ratified in the U.S.
"The U.N. can pass it if they want it," NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told FoxNews.com.
"But for it to have domestic effect, it needs to pass us senate by a two-thirds vote -- and clearly that will not happen in this make up of the U.S. senate, regardless of what the administration does."