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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Signing arms treaty would bind U.S.
Question of the Day
Thomas Howell Jr.’s article “Gun groups promise fight as U.N. inches toward override of Second Amendment” (Web, Thursday) was informative but missing a key point: the Obama administration’s strategy to circumvent Congress. The administration has stated it would sign a treaty on international arms sales if the agreement were a consensus document. “Consensus” does not mean universal agreement, but that no participant has substantive objections to any of the provisions.
A bit of creative vagueness in drafting can resolve objectionable provisions, enabling each nation to apply its own interpretation. The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties states, “The consent of a State to be bound by a treaty is expressed by the signature of its representative.” President Obama may authorize signature of the treaty by his designated representative without congressional approval. Once signed, a government is obligated “to refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purpose of a treaty,” thereby binding the United States to the treaty without Senate advice or consent to ratification.
Finally, Mr. Howell’s article quotes anti-gun rights activist Darryl Kimball as stating the treaty would not prohibit “hunting rifles.” Thus, through U.S. signature of the treaty, anti-gun groups could achieve the ban on so-called assault rifles sought by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, but not supported by Congress.
W. HAYS PARKS
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