The United Nations member States are once again working to implement an all-inclusive weapons treaty with dual intents. The publicized intent is to control the trading of weapons between weapons manufacturers and countries such that all weapons transactions will be covered thus preventing any sales to terror or other non-state actors. This treaty will presumably prevent terrorist and criminal entities from acquiring armaments from handguns to advanced weapons systems such as rockets and mortars. The secondary and less mentioned impetus is to control all private ownership of weapons by individuals. This time the treaty will not be aiming to necessarily disarm all non-state individuals but will instead be satisfied in simply having complete lists of every weapon privately owned. Of course these lists are guaranteed not to be a first step towards eventual weapons confiscation and everyone can believe that the world’s governments would never go back on this promise. But why should this be of any concern to the American people as they have the Second Amendment which guarantees them the right to keep and bear arms. But is the Second Amendment really sacrosanct or can it be abridged through international agreements?
John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State under President Dwight Eisenhower, asserted that treaties are a form of law which overrides the Constitution. The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution is in Article VI and states, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.” This clause was primarily intended to forbid the individual States from being allowed to enter into treaties independently and also to guarantee that all the individual States would be bound by and treaty entered and legally ratified by the Federal Government. There have been numerous people who have maintained that a treaty entered into by the United States through ratification by the Senate and signed by the President would then supercede the United States Constitution. This statement can be made true if one replaces one little word; remove ‘United’ from before the word ‘States’ and instead replace it with the word ‘individual’ and then it would be correct. Treaties do override the individual State’s Constitutions, not the United States Constitution. This also applied to individual State laws, regulations, statutes or other legally binding resolutions.
The reasoning behind the contention that international and other treaties entered into by the United States would supercede the Constitution ignores the semicolon replacing it with a comma. The treaties that are enacted must be tempered by the Constitution and can be rendered mute if found to be unconstitutional. The phrasing which states that treaties are to be made “under the authority of the United States” places the limitations within the constitution in effect for treaties just as it is for laws passed by the States or Congress. So, the Administration is limited in its power to enter into and negotiate treaties even with the ratification of the Senate by the same restrictions that the Congress and President are under when enacting Federal Law. So, let the world negotiate a presumable universal arms treaty which will eventually be used to implement the universal disarmament of individuals because even should the Senate ratify such a treaty and the President sign same, the Supreme Court, in theory, should render the enforcement of such a treaty unconstitutional and hopefully support the individual rights of the American peoples.
So sorry to those in the Administration and to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid who have been rumored to be hoping they could use such a treaty to negate the Second Amendment and were working for Senate ratification. The Founding Fathers were smart enough to preclude the meddling of the outside world with the unique rights granted by the revolutionary Constitution they crafted. The world around them was full of Emperors, Kings, Caliphs and other absolute rulers whose slightest whim was law. With a world where any treaty the nascent United States would enter would be with countries with such autocratic rulers that they realized that the rights provided by the United States Constitution would not be respected or even understood outside the nation they were founding. With such a world surrounding the Founding Fathers it is only logical that they would protect the delicate balance which gave the individual supreme rights even over and above the government which was crafted to serve the people and be endowed with limited powers, a strange and unique concept in their time. The American people will owe those men a debt of gratitude as long as there continues to be those who guard and keep those precious rights safe and protected. That is the task that the Founding Fathers demanded of those generations which followed and upon whom they had doubts and hopes, much as many patriots today harbor.
Beyond the Cusp