Speaking at a National Rifle Association convention in Indianapolis on Friday, Donald Trump announced that he is withdrawing U.S. support for the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, the purpose of which is to regulate the $70 billion international arms trade.
The NRA has opposed the treaty, originally signed by Barack Obama back in 2013, for quite some time despite the fact that its aim is to keep conventional arms from falling in the hands of bad actors, including terrorists and human traffickers. To the NRA, though, the treaty apparently steps on national sovereignty, because this is 2019 and clearly that is the biggest problem facing our well-established state. After all, this is a group of people who cling to an amendment that former Justice of the Supreme Court John Paul Stevens characterized as “a relic of the 18th century.”
“Under my administration, we will never surrender American sovereignty to anyone,” President Pumpkinhead told the adoring crowd of gun nuts, per The Hill. “We will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your Second Amendment freedoms.”
Continuing on like the Bruce Springsteen of awful people, Trump signed a document commanding the Senate to cease the ratification process and held the paper up as the crowd chanted “USA, USA.” He ended the bit by throwing his pen into the audience.
Apparently Trump didn’t inform NRA senior leadership about the announcement beforehand, bragging, “I didn’t even tell ‘em about it. So they’re listening in this big room and they’re saying ‘I wonder what he’s going to do?’ The good thing with me: You never know.”
Is spontaneity really a “good thing” when you’re the dude with the nuclear launch codes? We’re thinking not.
This is definitely a welcome surprise to the NRA, though, as the U.S. currently stands as the number one exporter of arms in the world (who would have thunk it?). Part of the reason Trump wanted to pull out of the treaty was concern about the US being held to a different trade standard than Russia and China, the second and third largest arms exporters, as they are not in the treaty. About 100 other countries, however, have both signed and ratified the agreement.
Trump’s foreign policy strategy seems to be that of a reality show contestant who declares “I’m not here to make friends”—unless, of course, they are an authoritarian dictator of some kind. The president has already taken the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal.
The UN will receive a withdrawal letter from the Trump administration “in the coming days,” according to a senior White House official. They also claimed, “The U.S. already has significant controls in place to regulate our arms transfers. Other countries do not.”
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, expressed worry that Trump’s decision will “turn back the clock on the little progress we have made to prevent illicit arms transfers” and is only motivated by “Republicans’ paralyzing fear of backlash from the NRA.”
“The president’s action today is yet another mistaken step that threatens to make the world less safe, rather than more secure,” Thomas Countryman, Obama’s lead negotiator on the treaty, declared.