Co-written and researched by Corbin Hiar.
In a joint press conference with Mexico’s president Philippe Calderon, President Obama recently threw his support behind the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and other Related Items, a long-stalled treaty often referred to by its Spanish acronym CIFTA.
“As President Calderon and I discussed, I am urging the Senate in the United States to ratify an inter-American treaty known as CIFTA to curb small arms trafficking that is a source of so many of the weapons used in this drug war,” said President Obama in Mexico City on the eve of the Summit of the Americas.
Thirty of the thirty-five members of the Organization of American States have ratified CIFTA since it was agreed upon in 1997. In an interview with Reuters Jonathan Winer, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State who was the main negotiator of the treaty during the Clinton administration, said the treaty “is designed to help US law enforcement track abuses of firearms of criminals back to the last lawful sale so they can determine what went wrong. It is completely consistent with all US laws and does not ever impose a foreign law on a US person who has abided by US law.”
Although this treaty would do little to reform the domestic loopholes which allow countless guns onto our streets, CIFTA would at least signal to our allies in the OAS that we are serious about combating the drug violence that the US market both feeds and fuels.
Unfortunately, this small step towards tightening US gun control regulations is being stonewalled by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in all likelihood because the National Rifle Association and other anti-gun control groups have lined up to oppose CIFTA, fearing that it could be a stepping-stone to more fundamental measures like Representative Bobby Rush’s comprehensive gun control bill. The tragedy is that CIFTA is so mild that even the NRA acknowledges that the bill “is not intended to restrict ‘lawful ownership and use’ of firearms,” but Reid needs real pushing for the legislation to succeed.
Most of the organizing around CIFTA to date has been staged by right-wing zealots unreasonably up in arms over this treaty. A Google search turns up scores of blog posts determined to raise alarms around the pending legislation with nary a progressive voice posting in favor of common sense and against unnecessary gun violence. But it’s time for those of us not in the thrall of the Second Amendment to offer vocal backing to this multilateral attempt to stop the flood of illegal weapons into Mexico and beyond.
Please click here to ask your Senators to join The Nation and President Obama in supporting the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and other Related Items.