In 2015, candidates of Canada’s Liberal political party ran for office on the promise of more gun control; recently, the left-leaning leaders took steps that will bring Canada into the fold of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), a decision that has gun rights groups crying foul—and justifiably so.
The ATT represents one more step toward confiscation, something the Liberal party denies, by creating a registration scheme that will let the government oversee which licensed gun owners buy what firearms. It claims the treaty simply establishes “common standards for the international trade of conventional weapons” by seeking “to reduce the illicit arms trade.”
Sounds innocent enough, until you learn, as the Arms Control Association points out, that means that the pact calls for states to “establish and maintain a national control system, including a national control list.” In other words, a national gun registry.
Fortunately, the Canadian Coalition for Firearm Rights (CCFR), the National Firearms Association (NFA) and the Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) collectively see the agreement for what it is: a call for a gun registry. They cite a clause requiring member states to include small arms on a list of conventional weapons to be subject to stringent records. Unfortunately, it might well be too late because the measures that the Liberal government advanced pave the way for Canada to become a treaty member in September.
The Canadian government scoffed at the concerns gun-rights groups raised, saying that the ATT allows for personal gun ownership. But let’s examine that. The NRA has long opposed the treaty because of its potential effect on law-abiding American gun owners.
In fact, the treaty contains doublespeak that gun-control advocates can say protects our rights, but that really just lays groundwork for infringements on the individual right to keep and bear arms. Indeed, the early segment of the treaty addresses “the sovereign right of any State to regulate and control conventional arms exclusively within its territory” and “use of certain conventional arms for recreational, cultural, historical, and sporting activities.” But those nuggets have no binding support elsewhere in the document.
Canadian firearm-advocacy groups claim that the small-arms category of the ATT could ultimately require thousands of gun hobbyists and sport shooters to register their guns. One group adds another concern about outsiders trying to change societal norms in multiple countries. “The CCFR is opposed to all participation in the Arms Trade Treaty as we believe that regulation concerning private firearm ownership should be formed by Canadians for Canadians,” the coalition’s chief executive officer and executive director, Rod Giltaca, told iPolitics.
Law-abiding gun owners in America can breathe a little easier now that President Donald Trump, during the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in April, moved to withdraw the United States from the ATT, but it still bears watching as support for the ATT is likely to rear its ugly head again in the future.
Much like the CCFR’s assessment says, it is precisely the notion of an international panel imposing its worldview on Americans that prompted calls for Trump to remove America’s signature from the document, which then-Secretary of State John Kerry signed in 2013.
If we hearken back to the days of this nation’s founding, we remember early leaders calling for a laissez-faire approach to government keeping its hands out of business. That concept can now be expanded to pertain to the ATT. America, Canada and other nations have the wherewithal to manage their own destinies. We don’t need a group of progressive know-it-alls to come up with more pipe dreams on how to rid the world of firearm ownership by private citizens.