07/19/2012 03:15 pm ET Updated Sep 18, 2012

Fact vs. Fiction: Arms Trade Treaty and Gun Ownership in the U.S.

As world leaders meet in New York this month to negotiate the first ever global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), the Internet has been buzzing with conspiracy theories that such a treaty would infringe on Second Amendment gun ownership rights in the U.S.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is one of the more high-profile groups to take aim at the arms trade treaty. The organization recently posted a series of videos on their site driven at best by misinformation and at worst a deliberate effort to undermine the treaty.

The videos spew a string of distortions, misrepresentations and outright lies, claiming that if the arms trade treaty is passed, then "what you'll wind up with is gun control on an international level specifically designed to be used against honest, law-abiding people."

Such distortions only give credence to allegations that the NRA's real agenda may be to protect the lucrative weapons industry, which helps bankroll the organization. That industry is estimated to exceed $60 billion annually and benefits immensely from the current free-for-all in the global trade in weapons and ammunition.

Let's break down fact from fiction.

Will the ATT stop the sale of handguns in the United States?

No, it will not.

Will the ATT affect the ability of Americans to own guns for hunting, shooting or any other legal purpose?

No, it will not.

The UN General Assembly resolution starting the process on the Arms Trade Treaty explicitly states that it is "the exclusive right of States to regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership, including through constitutional protections on private ownership."

No arms trade treaty will therefore infringe on that exclusive right.

Don't just take our word for it. The U.S. State Department has said:

There will be no restrictions on civilian possession or trade of firearms otherwise permitted by law or protected by the U.S. Constitution. There will be no dilution or diminishing of sovereign control over issues involving the private acquisition, ownership, or possession of firearms, which must remain matters of domestic law.

What the ATT will do:

It will stop the black market in arms on global level.

Every minute, someone dies from armed violence. Because of the out-of-control worldwide arms trade, thousands more are raped, forced into becoming child soldiers or otherwise injured.

For years, Amnesty International has been working with partners in the U.S. and around the world who are sick and tired of weapons falling into the hands of human rights abusers. We are working to save lives by demanding a "bulletproof" arms trade treaty that would:

  • Stop the transfer of arms when there is a substantial risk they will be used to violate human rights and humanitarian law, including by committing genocide, acts of gender-based violence or the forced recruitment of children into armed conflict
  • Include all conventional arms and ammunition
  • Be effective, transparent, and enforceable

So, again, who exactly stands to gain by opposing the treaty?