Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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July 24, 2012

Manchin: U.N. gun ban treaty ‘craziness’

CHARLESTON — Any attempt to disarm individual Americans in a yet-not-finalized United Nations Arms Trade Treaty would be “craziness” and doomed to failure on Capitol Hill, Sen. Joe Manchin vowed Thursday.

A lifelong hunter and gun owner himself, Manchin responded to mushrooming fears spread across the Internet of late that the proposed treat ultimately could erase the 2nd Amendment guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms.

Among groups raising the warning flag has been the National Rifle Association, whose president, Wayne LaPierre, says Americans oppose the UN “acting as a global nanny with a global permission slip stating whether they can own a gun or not.”

Manchin acknowledged that he, likewise, harbors concerns over the pending treaty, particularly with regard to the U.S. Constitution’s protection of gun owners.

But the freshman senator, who owns a perfect NRA voting record, said any such treaty proposal, which must pass muster in the U.S. Senate, would be summarily shot down when it appears for a vote.

“There are enough of us Democrats working with Republicans to make sure this type of craziness doesn’t happen,” he said.

“And it would be craziness. But I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

On the other hand, Manchin said senators are serious enough to want to see if it is possible to keep rogue nations from fueling terrorism with firearms.

Former President George W. Bush opposed an effort in 2006 to jump-start the treaty process, but President Obama wasted no time in reversing that policy by deciding the United States would take part in the negotiations.

LaPierre criticized the process as one that would punish law-abiding American citizens and do little to keep guns out of the hands of despots.

“If you’re the government, you get the guns,” the NRA leader said.

“If you’re a civilian, you don’t. But this will just end up helping evil governments and tyrants.”

Manchin and a dozen, in an earlier letter to Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, voiced opposition to any potential caveats in the treaty that would infringe on 2nd Amendment rights.

“We support efforts to better regulate the international trade of conventional weapons, but such efforts must be done in a responsible manner,” the senators said.

“We should do everything we can to ensure these weapons do not end up in the hands of human rights abusers, terrorist groups, insurgents or organized criminal enterprises.”

The group said the treaty must not “in any way regulate the domestic manufacture,  possession, or sales of firearms or ammunition,” since these rights are contained in the U.S. Constitution.

“We also oppose any inclusion of small arms, light weapons, ammunition, or related materials that would make the treaty overly broad and virtually unenforceable,” they said.

Besides the NRA, other gun groups lately have been on social networks and elsewhere, warning about the UN treaty.

“There’s a concern, yes,” Manchin said in a telephone interview.

“Yes, you have to have a better regulation in the international trade of weapons, but you don’t sacrifice our rights as law-abiding Americans and enter into a treaty where we have to reciprocate and do certain things within our own country that will be detrimental to our credence.”

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