Few Americans know much about the Arms Trade Treaty negotiated by the Obama administration, proposed for adoption by the United Nations three years ago, and still waiting for ratification by the U.S. Senate. President Obama, who would have pushed it along even earlier but didn’t want anyone to hear about it before the 2012 election, when it was new, is trying for ratification one last time. The Democrats, as the chastened president said at the time, “took a licking” in those midterm elections, and the licking might have been worse. He persuaded the U.N. to postpone its passage until the elections were done, and then he urged them to go ahead.
The treaty was years in the making and until Mr. Obama arrived at the White House the United States made it clear that it would never be a party to an international agreement that infringed the Second Amendment rights of Americans. That red line was removed at Mr. Obama’s request. The president has trouble with red lines. The treaty was aimed at registering not just military weapons, as its proponents argued, but individually owned civilian arms, too, including rifles, pistols and shotguns.
Champions of the Second Amendment fought hard for language exempting such arms, but such an exemption was unequivocally rejected by the U.N. negotiators. What was offered instead was meaningless argle-bargle in the preamble to the treaty, with no binding effect. Since a majority of the U.S. Senate opposed ratification, Mr. Obama would not submit the treaty to the Senate because he knew Harry Reid could not corral the 66 senators required to ratify it. Until last week.
Mr. Obama decided to give it the old college try. He sent it up late in the week, assuring senators who know better they need not worry about the Second Amendment because the treaty is “fully consistent with rights of U.S. citizens, including those secured by the Second Amendment.”
That was false three years ago, and it’s false now. Sen. Robert Corker of Tennessee, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Mr. Obama that “nothing has changed over the last four years to suggest the treaty is in our national interest, and it will remain dead in the water.”
Fortunately, Mr. Corker and his colleagues can have the last word. They can either ignore the treaty or take it up to drive a stake through its heart with a final rebuke to Mr. Obama, and to those determined to drive the stake not through the treaty, which deserves it, but through the Second Amendment. The Senate can’t let that happen.