President Donald Trump announced that the United States will be withdrawing from the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty while at the annual conference of the National Rifle Association in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Friday, April 26.
Trump signed the executive order and held it up for all to see while still standing behind the podium, proudly telling the audience that: “I am officially announcing today that the United States will be revoking the effect of America’s signature from this badly misguided treaty, we’re taking our signature back … Under my administration we will never surrender American sovereignty to anyone, we will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your Second Amendment freedom and that is why my administration will never ratify the UN trade treaty.”
The UN Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is a multilateral agreement that regulates the international trade of conventional weapons. It was initiated by the UN in 2012 and signed by former President Obama in 2013 before going into effect globally by the end of 2014. However, the U.S. Senate never actually approved it, and today, Trump formally rejected its existence and requested the Republican majority in the Senate not to ratify the treaty. Until now, the U.S. was one of the 29 countries who had signed the ATT but never actually enforced it. In total, 101 countries have formally joined, but 63 countries, including major arms exporters like Russia and China, have not.
According to the White House press release, “The ATT will only constrain responsible countries while allowing the irresponsible arms trade to continue … and cannot achieve its chief objective of addressing irresponsible arms transfers if these major arms exporters are not subject to it at all.” Furthermore, the press release makes the argument on behalf of the administration that by withdrawing, President Trump is “protecting America’s interests” and “defending our sovereign rights.” The U.S. withdrawal from the ATT will ensure that UN laws will not allow for International Criminal Court investigations of the U.S. Armed Forces and that these global regulations will not infringe in any way on American citizen’s Second Amendment right to bear arms.
The NRA lobbied against the adoption of this treaty by Congress, warning that our national gun laws “could become the rest of the world’s business and subject to its approval, on pain of trade restrictions if it doesn’t meet ‘international norms'” Fox News reported. President Trump has strong support from the NRA, which makes up a significant part of his political base. Trump declared to the audience that: “We will never surrender America’s sovereignty to an unelected, unaccountable, global bureaucracy!”
The Trump administration’s “America First” policy has been defined by protecting the sovereignty of the United States and advancing its interests in international affairs. In following with these principles, President Trump has already withdrawn from agreements such as the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Iran Deal), the 2015 Paris Climate Change Accords, as well as institutions such as the United Nations’ Educational and Cultural Education (UNESCO) and it’s Human Rights Council.
Reuters contributed to this report.