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Concerns about Arms Trade Treaty Justified

“Canadian concerns about the Arms Trade Treaty are well founded,” Clare said, speaking from Prince George. “Canada’s National Firearms Association does not support the inclusion of civilian small arms and light weapons in an Arms Trade Treaty. In our view, small arms and lights weapons should include only crew-served weapons systems and not small arms, parts, or ammunition intended for individual use.”

Clare continued, “The UN treaty is vague in many sections and in our view, this vagueness opens doorways for many additional regulations and restrictions to be introduced in a treaty that we expect would be ever-expanding. In particular, the wording of articles 6 and 7 apparently opens the possibility of Canada, Israel, or the US, for example, being brought before an international court for arming some other country, if some regime like that of Iran, North Korea, or China objected to the US or Canadian foreign policy, or opposed Israel’s existence. Article 26 notwithstanding, who is to define any particular groups as terrorist or not? Most of our other comments relate to the control of these firearms, components, and ammunition to be used in them.”

Our specific concerns with the Arms Trade Treaty include:

  1.  Article 3 which would include controls over small arms ammunition. We believe that such control would do little but reduce accessibility for legitimate purposes and raise costs.
  2. Article 4 with its requirement over control of components.
  3. Article 5, particularly sections 2 and 4, which at 2 calls on states to “…establish and maintain a national control system, including a national control list, in order to implement the provisions of this Treaty.” Sub-section 4 makes that issue even more offensive with:
  4. Each State Party, pursuant to its national laws, shall provide its national control list to the Secretariat, which shall make it available to other States Parties. States Parties are encouraged to make their control lists publicly available.
    We see this vague phrasing as having the potential to create a national registry which would be all the more offensive and dangerous as it would be made public.
  5. Article 8 subsection 1 is highly problematic with regards to “end user” documentation, and the NFA submits that the end user of small arms and ammunition cannot be known in the absence of a heavily regulated registration and licensing program, which we vigorously oppose. We have the same concern about article 12, especially sub-section 3.
  6. Canada’s National Firearms Association does not support the inclusion of Article 7 subsection 4 in the absence of any clear statement supporting the legitimate use of firearms for personal defence. Why should prevention of violence be tied to gender? It should also be considered that civilian self-defence may by necessity involve violence.
  7. Canada’s National Firearms Association is concerned that articles 15 and 16 open the door to widespread corruption, as well as to increased demands for assistance. Canada’s National Firearms Association expects that improved fiscal responsibility at the UN is necessary to ensure that funding is better monitored and controlled. Improved financial controls upon the UN would save more lives than this Arms Trade Treaty ever would.
  8. Canada’s National Firearms Association is concerned about Article 16, subsection 1 and in particular its reference to model legislation. The UN model firearms legislation that has been published is both extremely dangerous and offensive, and would certainly represent significant additional burdens to Canadian firearms owners.
    8. Canada’s National Firearms Association is concerned about Article 18 particularly the vague nature of subsection 3. E. and its potential for expansion of the scope and additions to the treaty as related to Article 20.

Canada’s National Firearms Association strongly recommends that Canada does not sign the Arms Trade Treaty. Our position is that the present domestic burdens on Canadian firearms owners are already excessive, and the effect of this treaty would be to add more unnecessary, onerous, and costly requirements for firearms ownership, as well as build further disrespect for firearms law. In our opinion this treaty will not have the support of a significant proportion of the firearms owning public, and it appears to be in direct conflict with the stated aims of the Government in regards to not having any new burdens for firearms owners.

Canada’s National Firearms Association is this country’s largest and most effective advocacy organization representing the interests of firearms owners and users.

For more information contact:

Blair Hagen, Executive VP Communications, 604-753-8682 [email][/email]
Sheldon Clare, President, 250-981-1841 [email][/email]
Shawn Bevins, Executive VP, 819-313-2887 [email][/email] (français)
Canada’s NFA toll-free number – 1-877-818-0393
NFA Website: