Fox Gives Credence To UN Arms Trade Treaty Conspiracies

Fox News gave credence to debunked conspiracy theories surrounding the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, presenting outlandish fears about the treaty's potential effects on domestic gun policy as legitimate reason to oppose it.

Members of the United Nations are meeting this week to negotiate an international arms trade treaty, which would regulate the transnational transfer of weapons in an attempt to keep weapons from human rights abusers and war criminals.  

America's Newsroom highlighted arguments for and against the U.S. joining the U.N. treaty, laying out how “critics” in the U.S. “fear that this new treaty will create international gun control, and that it will restrict American gun rights.” Fox correspondent Eric Shawn uncritically explained how specific provisions in the treaty have caused some to fear it could create a gun registry and infringe upon the 2nd Amendment.

Fox then aired comments by an unidentified man furthering these conspiracies: “The treaty isn't clearly limited to the international arms trade. There are points in the draft treaty where it seems like it could apply to domestic arms sales and transfers inside the United States.” Shawn noted how the National Rifle Association (NRA) also “strongly opposes” the treaty, believing it will restrict Americans' gun rights.

Rather than report on the merits of these conspiracy theories, Shawn explained that supporters of the treaty disagree with the NRA and argue the treaty is needed for various human rights reasons.

The treaty's actual language clearly explains that it does not dictate or impact nations' domestic affairs. The treaty's draft preamble says that a State party to this treaty “reaffirm[s] the sovereign right of any State to regulate and control conventional arms exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional systems.”

Furthermore, the U.S. Department of State laid out "red lines" that the final treaty must not cross in order to ensure U.S support, including “restrictions on civilian possession or trade of firearms otherwise permitted by law or protected by the U.S. Constitution” or infringements upon “sovereign control” of domestic gun laws:

In addition, the American Bar Association (ABA) investigated the treaty and found that “the proposed [treaty] is consistent with the Second Amendment.” As the ABA notes, the NRA and conspiracy theorists do not acknowledge that the U.S. Constitution's supremacy clause would render void any treaty that conflicted with the Second Amendment.

The NRA has been perhaps the loudest peddler of these unfounded conspiracy theories, and Fox attempted to stack the deck against the treaty when it was being negotiated in July 2012.