Tan­credo fights in­ter­na­tional ef­forts to curb U.S. gun rights

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY VA­LERIE RICHARDSON

DEN­VER | For­mer Rep. Tom Tan­credo, best known for his tough stand in Congress against il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion, has taken up a new cause since his re­tire­ment from the House last year: de­fend­ing Amer­i­can gun own­ers against in­ter­na­tional treaties.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is mov­ing for­ward on two treaties that Mr. Tan­credo and other gun rights ad­vo­cates see as a threat to the Sec­ond Amend­ment’s right to bear arms. His re­sponse is a 2010 bal­lot ini­tia­tive that would di­rect elected of­fi­cials in his home state of Colorado to op­pose any such agree­ments.

The ini­tia­tive, filed two weeks ago with the Colorado Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil, would be non­bind­ing, but Mr. Tan­credo said merely hav­ing it on the bal­lot would be enough to force candidates to ad­dress the is­sue.

“I want to know where [candidates] stand be­fore they’re elected,” he said in an in­ter­view. “I want to get them on the record as quickly as I can. I don’t want to find out af­ter the fact.”

Gun rights ad­vo­cates went on red alert in Oc­to­ber af­ter Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton re­versed Bush ad­mi­nis- tra­tion pol­icy by throw­ing her sup­port be­hind the con­ven­ing of a U.N. con­fer­ence to dis­cuss a treaty to reg­u­late the in­ter­na­tional trans­fer of arms.

Mrs. Clin­ton ar­gued that “a strong in­ter­na­tional stan­dard” is needed to tighten world­wide se­cu­rity mea­sures on arms trans­fers to “rogue states, ter­ror­ist groups, and groups seek­ing to un­set­tle re­gions.”

“As long as that con­fer­ence op­er­ates un­der the rule of con­sen­sus de­ci­sion-mak­ing needed to en­sure that all coun­tries can be held to stan­dards that will ac­tu­ally im­prove the global sit­u­a­tion by deny­ing arms to those who would abuse them, the United States will ac­tively sup­port the ne­go­ti­a­tions,” Mrs. Clin­ton said in an Oct. 14 state­ment.

Two weeks later, the United States voted in fa­vor of a U.N. res­o­lu­tion call­ing for a U.N. con­fer­ence to pro­duce a fi­nal ac­cord on the pro­posed arms trade treaty by 2012.

While Mrs. Clin­ton said the treaty is aimed at rogue states and ter­ror­ists, Mr. Tan­credo wor­ries about a back­door ef­fort to in­tro­duce re­stric­tions on Amer­i­can gun own­er­ship.

Pres­i­dent Obama “may try to hide it, but he’s com­mit­ted to gun con­trol in the United States, per- haps gun con­fis­ca­tion in the United States, and he’ll use any means in his con­trol, in­clud­ing in­ter­na­tional agree­ments,” Mr. Tan­credo said. “What’s next? The United Na­tions de­ter­min­ing who can own guns in the world?”

The White House de­clined to com­ment on Mr. Tan­credo’s charge about the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s gun-con­trol stance, and at­tempts to reach the State Depart­ment were un­suc­cess­ful.

But Peter Hamm, a spokesman for the Brady Cam­paign Against Gun Vi­o­lence, dis­missed Mr. Tan­credo’s ef­fort as “a red her­ring that will prob­a­bly help him raise money for his causes.”

He also said the treaty posed no threat to U.S. gun own­ers be­cause it merely reg­u­lates in­ter­na­tional trade and tries to shut down black-mar­ket trans­fers.

The U.N. vote marked the sec­ond time that the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has sig­naled sup­port for an in­ter­na­tional treaty that U.S. gun rights ac­tivists de­nounce.

At a spring meet­ing with Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent Felipe Calderon, Mr. Obama said he would urge the Se­nate to rat­ify the In­terAmer­i­can Con­ven­tion Against the Il­licit Man­u­fac­tur­ing of and Traf­fick­ing in Firearms, Am­mu­ni­tion, Ex­plo­sives, and Other Re­lated Ma­te­ri­als (CIFTA). Pres­i­dent Clin­ton signed the treaty, but the Se­nate never ap­proved it.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Harry Reid of Ne­vada, who is fac­ing a tough re-elec­tion fight in 2010, re­sponded with a tepid state­ment that did not sup­port the treaty, and the cham­ber has taken no for­mal action since.

The Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion said of CIFTA that “anti-gun ad­vo­cates will still try to use this treaty to at­tack gun own­er­ship in the U.S.” and added that the group would “vig­or­ously op­pose any in- ter­na­tional ef­fort to re­strict the con­sti­tu­tional rights of law-abid­ing Amer­i­can gun own­ers.”

John R. Bolton, who served in the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion as am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, told the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion’s NRA News that “what­ever the ap­pear­ance on the sur­face, there’s no doubt that do­mes­tic firearm con­trol is right at the top of [the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s] agenda.”

“The ad­min­is­tra­tion is try­ing to act as though this is re­ally just a treaty about in­ter­na­tional arms trade be­tween na­tion states, but there’s no doubt — as was the case back over a decade ago — that the real agenda here is do­mes­tic firearms con­trol,” Mr. Bolton said.

Mr. Hamm of the Brady Cam­paign called con­cerns over U.N. in­volve­ment over­stated.

“The U.N. treaty on small arms isn’t re­ally high on our list be­cause it doesn’t have any­thing to do with danger­ous weapons go­ing to danger­ous peo­ple in the U.S.,” Mr. Hamm said. “It has to do with stop­ping the mas­sive flow of arms to peo­ple try­ing to seize power around the globe. [. . .]

“Leave it to ex­trem­ists to be­lieve that the U.N. is a danger­ous in­sti­tu­tion with enor­mous po­lit­i­cal power.”

ASTRID RIECKEN/THE WASH­ING­TON TIMES

For­mer Rep. Tom Tan­credo said Pres­i­dent Obama is “com­mit­ted to gun con­trol in the United States, per­haps gun con­fis­ca­tion in the United States, and he’ll use any means in his con­trol.”

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