False claim that US is joining international gun registry


Claim: The US is ready to ratify a treaty that would establish an international gun registry

A post published on Facebook said President Joe Biden recently decided to add the US as a signatory to a United Nations treaty that seeks to establish an international gun registry.

“Joe Biden has just announced that he is adding America as a signatory to the United Nations Small Arms Treaty, setting the stage for a full ratification vote in the US Senate,” reads part of the Aug. 29.

The post goes on to state that the treaty “would create an international gun control registry, allowing Communist China, European politicians, and 3rd World dictators to track the ‘user’ of every gun.” , gun and ammunition for sale in the world.”

The post was shared more than 8,000 times in two months.

But that claim is false. The US does not intend to join any such alliance, according to a State Department spokesman. Experts have said that the Arms Trade Treaty, which appears to be the treaty referred to in the post, will not establish an international arms registry.

USA TODAY has reached out to the user who shared the post for comment.

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The US is not a party to the treaty, according to the State Department

There are no announcements about the US joining the international arms treaty on the White House website, and USA TODAY could find no evidence that such a “UN Small Arms Treaty” exists.

The post appears to refer to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in April 2013 and entered into force in December 2014. This treaty seeks to regulate the international arms trade. common, according to the United Nations website.

“There is no United Nations Convention on Small Arms,” ​​a State Department spokesperson said in an email to USA TODAY. “The Arms Trade Treaty, which was negotiated with the United Nations and entered into force in 2014, includes small and light weapons, but it also includes heavy weapons such as tanks, combat vehicles, weapons, fighter jets, attack helicopters, warships, and missiles and rocket launchers.”

Former Secretary of State John Kerry signed the treaty on behalf of the Obama administration in 2013, but the Senate did not approve it. In 2019, President Donald Trump sent a notice to withdraw the US from the alliance. The announcement said that the US is under no obligation to comply with the terms of the treaty.

A State Department spokesman said the Biden administration “continues to work to finalize a revised Arms Transfer Plan for the United States” and that once the plan is finalized, “the United States is ready to move on other arms transfers, including determining the appropriate relationship of the United States with the (Arms Trade Treaty).”

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The treaty follows arms agreements between nations, not people

However, the arms treaty does not create an international arms registry.

Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty provide reports on international arms sales that can be accessed by participating governments. However, the annual reports only include information such as the number and types of weapons sent and which countries sent and received them, not who owns them, according to Rachel Stohl, vice president and director of the Common Security Program at the Stimson Institute, an international security think tank.

The information provided by the treaty parties may be more detailed than what nations have already submitted to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, a voluntary reporting system launched in 1993 with similar goals. Stohl said. Both of these reporting systems track what are broadly defined as conventional weapons, such as handguns, rocket launchers, fighter jets and tanks.

The Arms Trade Treaty contains language that formally recognizes “the sovereign right of any State to control and maintain conventional weapons within its territory, in accordance with its legal or constitutional system. ” Stohl, who helped draft the treaty as a UN consultant, said the language was specifically included as a reference to the right to bear arms enshrined in the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.

“That line is included in the US,” he said.

Establishing a federal gun registry has been prohibited in the US since the Gun Owners Protection Act was signed into law in 1986.

This story has also been debunked by The Associated Press and PolitiFact.

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Our data: False

Based on our findings, we rate FALSE the claim that the US intends to ratify a treaty that would establish an international gun registry. The US is not set to ratify any such agreement, according to the State Department. The agreement referred to in the post follows the sale of conventional arms between the countries; it does not specify which specific people end up with weapons.

Our sources of information:

  • Rachel Stohl, Sept. 27-Oct. 17, Telephone conversation and email exchange with USA TODAY
  • US Department of State, Sept. 23, Email Statement
  • Library of Congress, accessed Oct. 17, Firearms Owners Protection Act
  • United Nations Treaty Collection, accessed Oct. 17, Text of Arms Trade Treaty
  • United Nations Registry of Conventional Arms, accessed Oct. 17, participation statistics
  • United Nations Registry of Conventional Weapons, accessed Oct. 17, Standard Standard Arms Classes
  • United Nations Office for Disaster Information, accessed Oct. 17, Arms Trade Treaty
  • Whitehouse.gov, December 9, 2016, Message to the Senate — Arms Trade Treaty
  • Associated Press, Sept. 21, Ad overturns the treaty that regulates the global arms trade
  • PolitiFact, Aug. 10, 2012, Broun: UN treaty could lead to international gun registration
  • USA TODAY, September 25, 2013, US signs treaty to control global arms trade.
  • Indianapolis Star, April 26, 2019, Trump pulls back US lessons on Arms Trade Treaty during speech at NRA in Indianapolis.

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Our data analysis work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.


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