Trump Announces U.S. Withdrawal From Arms Treaty at NRA Rally

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump said that his administration is withdrawing from a global arms treaty that set rules for sales and transfers of small arms, missile launchers and warships.

“My administration will never surrender American sovereignty to anyone. My administration will never ratify the UN Arms Treaty,” Trump said Friday at a National Rifle Association conference in Indiana. “We’re taking our signature back.”

The NRA, a key constituency for Trump, has long opposed the Arms Trade Treaty, saying it infringes on gun owners’ rights, even though the U.S. never ratified the agreement.

“I hope you’re happy,” the president said.

The White House was concerned that future revisions of the treaty could have created new exposure to the Second Amendment rights, according to a senior administration official who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The treaty will be open for amendments in 2020.

The administration also opposed the treaty because major arms manufacturers like Russia and China weren’t signatories, the official said.

The treaty was signed in 2013 by then-Secretary of State John Kerry during President Barack Obama’s administration but was never ratified by the U.S. Senate. The agreement was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in April 2013, with only Iran, Syria and North Korea voting no, while 23 countries abstained.

Kerry said at the time that the goal of the treaty was to stop cross-border shipments of conventional weapons that could enable war crimes, terrorism or human rights violations. The Obama administration said the pact would have no impact on domestic firearms sales.

Kerry’s signature provided only a symbolic seal of approval. U.S. law already incorporates many of the restrictions the accord seeks to encourage worldwide.

The treaty won support from human rights, development, security and religious groups, which said in a letter to Obama at the time that signing the accord “would be a powerful step” demonstrating the U.S. “commitment to preventing mass atrocities and protecting civilians from armed conflict around the globe.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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