INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — With pro-gun legislation largely stalled in Congress, President Donald Trump said Friday he is withdrawing the U.S. from an international agreement on the arms trade, telling the National Rifle Association the treaty is “badly misguided.”
Trump made the announcement as he vowed to fight for gun rights and implored members of the nation’s largest pro-gun group — struggling to maintain its influence — to rally behind his re-election bid.
“It’s under assault,” he said of the constitutional right to bear arms. “But not while we’re here.”
Trump said he would be revoking the United States’ status as a signatory of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, which regulates international trade in conventional weapons, from small arms to battle tanks, combat aircraft and warships. President Barack Obama signed the pact in 2013 but it has never been ratified by U.S. lawmakers.
It has long been opposed by the NRA.
“Under my administration, we will never surrender American sovereignty to anyone,” Trump said, before signing a document on stage asking the Senate to halt the ratification process. “We will never allow foreign diplomats to trample on your Second Amendment freedom.”
“I hope you’re happy,” he told the group, to cheers.
His move against the treaty came as Trump sought to excite an organization that was pivotal to Trump’s victory in 2016 but, three years later, is limping toward the next election divided and diminished.
“You better get out there and vote,” he said, telling the crowd of thousands that the 2020 election “seems like it’s a long ways away. It’s not.”
Gun activists denounced the treaty when it was under negotiation as an infringement of civilian firearm ownership, despite the well-enshrined legal principle that says no treaty can override the Constitution or U.S. laws. The treaty is aimed at cracking down on illicit trading in small arms, thereby curbing violence in some of the most troubled corners of the world.
Advocates of tighter gun restrictions denounced Trump’s decision. Kris Brown, president of the Brady organization, said it was a “reckless move” that will “only embolden terrorists and other dangerous actors around the world.”