In a Dramatic Moment, Trump Announces to NRA That U.S. Will Halt Ratification of Obama-Era UN Arms Treaty
President Trump announced on Friday that the U.S. will halt ratification of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, a remnant of the Obama era.
In a dramatic moment during his speech at the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action event, Trump announced his decision to sign an order instructing the Senate to halt the ratification process begun under his predecessor. President Obama submitted the treaty, which aims to regulate the $70 billion international arms trade, to the Senate for ratification in 2013, but it was never signed.
Trump, who vowed to distance the U.S. from global agreements that undermine American sovereignty during his campaign, vowed that he would "never" ratify the arms treaty.
“My administration will not ratify the UN arms trade treaty,” he told the NRA. “We’re taking our signature back. The United Nations will get notice that we are formally rejecting this treaty."
“Under my administration, we will never surrender American sovereignty to anyone,” the president promised. “We will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your Second Amendment freedoms.” He then immediately signed a document ordering the Senate to stop the ratification process while on stage at the NRA convention.
The decision was apparently kept under tight wraps until Trump made the announcement during his speech Friday morning. Even NRA execs were unaware that he planned to sign the paperwork at the event, according to Trump.
The crowd roared its approval and chanted, "USA, USA!" as the president held up the signed document.
Conservative groups, including the NRA, have opposed the treaty, fearing that it would infringe on American sovereignty and cede power to the United Nations. The Trump administration had also voiced concerns that the treaty would unfairly penalize the U.S. because China and Russia were not signatories to the treaty. The U.S. is the world's number one arms exporters in the world, with China and Russia coming in at numbers two and three.
In a series of tweets, the NRA celebrated Trump's decision to halt U.S. support for the treaty.
Before the president had even concluded his speech, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) came out swinging with an angry press release blasting the president.
“This is yet another myopic decision that jeopardizes U.S. security based on false premises and fearmongering," the press release said. "The Arms Trade Treaty has no impact on Americans’ Second Amendment rights, nor imposes any restrictions on U.S. arms exports. To the contrary, this treaty was negotiated to level the international arms exports playing field by requiring other countries to observe the same strict standards the U.S. does in selling arms abroad."
Many Americans, including the tens of thousands in attendance at the NRA convention, strenuously disagree that handing over our sovereignty to unelected global bodies can and likely will infringe on the rights of Americans.