False claim that US is joining international gun registry

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Claim: The US intends to ratify a treaty that would establish an international arms registry

A viral Facebook post claims that President Joe Biden recently decided to include the United States in a United Nations treaty to create an international arms registry by signatories.

“Joe Biden has just announced that he will add America to the UN Small Arms Treaty, setting the stage for a full ratification vote in the US Senate,” according to the August 29.

The article states that the treaty “will create an international arms control registry that would allow Communist China, European socialists, and 3rd world dictators to track the ‘end user’ of every rifle, shotgun, and rifle sold in the world.”

Within two months, the post had been shared more than 8,000 times.

However, the statement is false. According to the representative of the State Department, the United States is not going to join such a treaty. Experts have said that the Arms Trade Treaty, which appears to be the treaty referred to in this report, 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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According to the State Department, the US is not a party to the treaty

The White House website does not list the U.S. accession to an international arms treaty, and USA TODAY found no evidence that such a “UN Small Arms Treaty” exists.

This post appears to refer to the UN Arms Trade Treaty, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2013. in April and adopted in 2014 December. According to the UN website, the treaty aims to regulate the international trade in conventional weapons.

“There is no UN Treaty on Small Arms,” ​​a State Department spokesman told USA TODAY in an email. “The Arms Trade Treaty negotiated by the UN and entered into force in 2014 covers small arms and light weapons, but it also covers heavier weapons such as tanks, armored fighting vehicles, artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters. warships, missiles and missile launchers’.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry signed the treaty on behalf of the Obama administration in 2013, but the Senate failed to ratify it. In 2019, President Donald Trump sent a message about the withdrawal of the United States from the agreement. The report says the US is not bound by the terms of the treaty.

A State Department spokesman said the Biden administration “continues to work to finalize an updated conventional arms transfer policy for the United States” and that once that policy is complete, “the United States intends to pursue other arms transfer issues, including the appropriate relationship of the United States with the (Arms Trade Treaty) ).

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The treaty tracks arms deals between nations, not people

In any event, an arms treaty does not create an international arms registry.

Parties to the Arms Trade Treaty make international arms sales reports available to participating governments. But the annual reports only include information such as the number and types of weapons shipped and which countries sent and received them, not who owns them, said Rachel Stohl, vice president and director of the Stimson Center’s Conventional Defense Program. international security expert group.

The information provided by the parties to the treaty may be somewhat more detailed than what countries already provide to the UN Conventional Weapons Registry, a voluntary reporting process that began in 1993 with similar goals, Stohl said. Both reporting processes monitor what are broadly defined as conventional weapons, such as small arms, rocket launchers, fighter jets and tanks.

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

“This line was included in the U.S.,” she said.

Since 1986, when the Firearms Owners Protection Act was signed into law, the United States has been prohibited from creating a federal gun registry.

The claim was also debunked by The Associated Press and PolitiFact.

Our assessment: False

Based on our research, we rate the claim that the U.S. is ready to ratify a treaty that would establish an international weapons registry as QUESTIONABLE. According to the State Department, the US is not ready to ratify such a treaty. The treaty referred to in the post tracks the cross-border sale of conventional weapons between nations; it does not detail which specific people are getting the guns.

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Our fact-checking sources:

  • Rachel Stohl, Sept. 27-Oct. 17, Telephone conversation and e-mail exchange. by mail with USA TODAY
  • US Department of State, September 23, email statement. by post
  • Library of Congress, accessed October 17, Text of the Firearms Owners Protection Act
  • United Nations Treaty Series, revised 17 October, Text of the Arms Trade Treaty
  • United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, accessed 17 October, participation statistics
  • United Nations Register of Conventional Weapons, opened on 17 October, Major Conventional Weapons Categories
  • United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, accessed 17 October, Arms Trade Treaty
  • Whitehouse.gov, 2016. December 9, report to the Senate – Arms Trade Treaty
  • Associated Press, September 21, an ad misleading about a treaty regulating the global arms trade
  • PolitiFact, 2012 August 10, Broun: UN treaty could be added to international arms registry
  • USA TODAY, 2013 On September 25, the United States signed a treaty to regulate the global arms trade
  • Indianapolis Star, 2019 April 26, Trump reverses US course on arms trade treaty, speaks to NRA in Indianapolis

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