The first round of UN Arms Trade Treaty talks may have fallen apart at the month-long conference held in NYC this past July, but as Ted Bromund over at Heritage noted at the time, “Now that the concept of the ATT has been invented, it cannot be uninvented. There are too many countries and too many left-wing nongovernmental organizations that want a treaty.” He was right and as Katie reported last week, it didn’t take very long to initiate another attempt. One question she raised in her post deserves more attention: “Is the argument from the U.N. that it won't suppress Second Amendment rights an honest one?” And what about the Obama administration’s argument that they “will not accept any treaty that infringes on the constitutional rights of our citizens to bear arms”?
Given our president’s feelings about our right to bear arms and his track record on gun control, the ATT has become an issue deserving very close attention. Americans shouldn’t find comfort in assuming that for UN treaties to take effect, a two-thirds majority in the Senate is necessary. In a separate article Bromund notes that this understanding of the way treaties work is far too simplistic. I’d recommend reading that article in its entirety but to summarize:
“So, in the context of the ATT, if this conference produces a treaty that is open for signature, President Obama may sign it immediately. The U.S. will then hold itself to be under a legal obligation not to defeat the ATT’s “object and purpose.” The interpretation of this phrase will rest with the State Department’s lawyers, perhaps in a way directed by subsequent legislation, whose decisions cannot be predicted and are not easily subject to legislative oversight.”
Americans also shouldn’t be quick to believe the UN’s claims that the ATT will not infringe on Americans’ Second Amendment rights. A report by the UN Coordinating Action on Small Arms titled “The Impact of Poorly Regulated Arms Transfers on the Work of the UN,” recognizes, on the one hand, that states have a right to “individual or collective self-defense” and that “the ATT does not aim to impede or interfere with the lawful ownership and use of weapons.” Yet on the other hand it states that because of the problem of diversion, or the transfer of weapons to the illicit market, “the arms trade must therefore be regulated in ways that would…minimize the risk of misuse of legally owned weapons.”
The Obama administration has also echoed claims that the ATT will not pose a threat to domestic gun owners. A Washington Times editorial sees right through it, however:
“It is hard to take the White House response seriously. The treaty instructs countries to“take the necessary legislative and administrative measures, to adapt, as necessary, national laws and regulations to implement the obligations of this treaty.” The agreement’s language is so broad, vague and poorly defined it could be stretched in a variety of ways that would pose a threat to the Second Amendment.”
In the end, of course, this treaty will do absolutely nothing to stop violence, terrorism and intra-state conflicts as its backers contend. The logistics alone are impossible and the fact that the Obama administration is agreeing to come together as equals with dictatorial regimes like Iran – a country which, by the way, received a top post at the July conference – is unconscionable.
So should we believe the administration (and the UN) when they assure Americans the ATT will not suppress our Second Amendment rights? And moreover, that they will not sign one that does? The administration’s keen interest in the treaty alone is cause for concern, but even more telling is when the adage ‘actions speak louder than words’ is applied to the Obama administration’s record. From Obamacare to Benghazi – honesty and transparency have not been their strong suits. Finally, the soaring gun sales in Obama’s first term and skyrocketing gun stocks since his reelection may tell you everything you really need to know about whether Americans take the administration at their word.
From Townhall Magazine's Townhall of Fame feature by Leah Barkoukis:
On April 16, 2007, a lone gunman murdered 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech before eventually taking his own life. In the wake of the massacre, Chris Brown, a student at the University of North Texas, decided it was time to take a stand against anti-concealed carry policies on campuses that merely strip law-abiding individuals of their right to self-defense.
Armed with nothing more than the web and Facebook, Brown formed Students for Concealed Carry from his dorm room. Today, SCC has become a national, nonpartisan, grassroots organization consisting of roughly 40,000 members in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
“The Virginia Tech incident—it’s tragic, it’s terrible—but it’s easy to wipe away as an exception,” says David Burnett, public relations director at SCC.
In 2008, when there was another shooting, this time at Northern Illinois University, the problem couldn’t be brushed off as an anomaly.
“People really started grasping for a solution at that point,” Burnett tells Townhall. That’s when SCC really entered the limelight, as people began talking about whether or not guns could be part of a solution.
The organization’s mission is twofold: dispel myths about concealed carry on college campuses and push state legislators and schools administrators to make changes that would grant concealed carry permit holders, according to the SCC website, “the same rights on college campuses that those licensees currently enjoy in most other unsecured locations.” The organization is not seeking to change who can legally carry a concealed weapon on campuses.
In most states, there is a laundry list of requirements individuals must meet to receive a CCW permit.
“People often say, ‘Look, kids shouldn’t have guns,’” Burnett says. “Number one, most states require you to be 21 to have a permit anyway. But number two, if we send an 18-year-old overseas and put an M-16 in his hands to defend America, we can trust them to put a .38 in their pockets for self-protection on campus.”
Read more about Students for Concealed Carry by ordering the November issue of Townhall Magazine.
David Petraeus cited an ‘extramarital affair’ as the reason for resigning from his position as director of the CIA. A lot of questions are being thrown around tonight, however, about the timing of this bombshell after learning that he was supposed to testify before Congress next week on Benghazi. Is there a connection here or is it really about the affair? More from NBC on the latter:
Officials told The Associated Press that information about the affair surfaced over the course of an FBI probe. Meanwhile, law enforcement sources told NBC News that the FBI is currently investigating Petraeus' biographer for improperly trying to access his email. The sources emphasized that Petraeus was not under investigation and added that they did not believe the investigation into author Paula Broadwell would result in criminal charges.
"In his mind, in his views, with his code of ethics and morals, he did a very dishonorable thing," a U.S. military official and long-time aide to Petraeus told NBC News. "This had nothing to do with Benghazi, nothing to do with his relationship with the White House," the official added in reference to the recent questions and criticism leveled at the general for his agency's response to the recent attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya. […]
Military justice considers extramarital affairs—ripe ground for blackmailing—to be security threats and possible grounds for court martial, The AP reported.
It’s still unclear as to why it’s unlikely the investigation would result in criminal charges given that Broadwell ‘improperly tried to access his email’ and ‘possibly gained access to classified information.’
According to a spokesman for the Senate Intelligence Committee, “acting CIA Director Mike Morell [will] testify Thursday in place of Petraeus.”
Mia Love’s speech at the Republican National Convention completely changed the game for her in the race for Utah's 4th District. Up until her ‘coming out party’ at the RNC, Love was a heavy underdog, behind by double digits in the polls against her Democratic opponent. After the Convention, however, she closed the gap and even held a slight lead in the two most recent polls, which changed RCP’s rating of the race to toss-up.
Unfortunately, with 100 percent reporting in, the GOP favorite fell short of defeating Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson by roughly 2,800 votes as of writing. Matheson has now fended off six challengers since taking the 2nd District seat from a Republican 12 years ago. “[Matheson] jumped to the new 4th District this year after the GOP-controlled Utah Legislature carved up his district when it redrew congressional boundaries last fall,” according to Deseret News.
Love would have been the first African-American Republican woman in Congress.
Despite the massive amounts of outside spending in Ohio’s Senate race to take out one of the most liberal Senators in Congress, the race has been called for Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. With 47 percent of precincts reporting, Brown defeated state Treasurer Josh Mandel.
Stay tuned all day for Townhall election coverage and late into the night for live election results of every race in every state.
Over the weekend Sen. Rand Paul endorsed GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg in his bid against Democratic Sen. Jon Tester for Montana’s Senate seat. The race is a dead heat, although a Mason-Dixon poll on Sunday showed the Republican challenger up, 49-45.
"America is at a crossroads," Rand Paul said today. "That's why I, along with my father, Ron Paul, have endorsed Denny Rehberg for Senate. Because we know that if you help Denny defeat liberal Senator Jon Tester, Harry Reid and his liberal allies will no longer control the Senate."
Senator Paul continued,"Denny Rehberg will vote to audit the fed. Denny Rehberg will help me eliminate wasteful foreign aid spending, repeal Obamacare, and prevent trillion-dollar deficits... I support Denny Rehberg and encourage you to do the same, because a vote for anyone other than Denny Rehberg is a vote to keep Harry Reid and his liberal allies in control of the U.S. Senate."
Paul’s statement that “a vote for anyone other than Denny Rehberg is a vote to keep Harry Reid and his liberal allies in control of the U.S. Senate” is crucially important in this race. Leftists have recently been propping up a third-party spoiler, Libertarian candidate Dan Cox, hoping to siphon off conservative votes from Rehberg. These endorsements could help the Republican challenger keep the libertarian vote.
"I'm honored to have the endorsement of Ron and Rand Paul," said Denny Rehberg. "Dr. Paul and I have long worked together on Audit the Fed legislation, which we were able to pass through the House this year, and I look forward to working with Rand in the Senate to advance a pro-growth, pro-liberty agenda that will get our country back on track."
For your daily fix of Joe Biden gaffes on the campaign trail: "There's never been a day in the last four years I've been proud to be his vice president. Not one single day."
Crowd cheers loudly anyway...
Ohio Gov. John Kasich thinks the Buckeye State will be called by the end of the night and Karl Rove predicts that we’ll wake up to a winner (Mitt Romney) on Nov. 7. But if the all-important Ohio is what this race comes down to – neither scenario will pan out if the provisional ballot “nightmare” in the Buckeye State comes true.
For the first time in Ohio’s history, absentee ballot applications were automatically mailed out to nearly all (6.9 million of the 7.8 million) registered voters in the state regardless of whether or not the voter requested one.
Ohio’s current secretary of state, Republican Jon Husted, pushed for the absentee-ballot applications to go out to all voters, according to Blackwell.
In previous Ohio elections, a few counties would automatically send out absentee-ballot applications to all their residents, while the vast majority of counties would not. Husted sought to make the absentee ballot process uniform across Ohio’s 88 counties.
In a news release, Husted said the new system would “help reduce the chance of long lines at the polls during the presidential election, and voters in smaller counties will have the same conveniences as voters in larger counties.”
If a voter returned the absentee ballot application but fails to send in the actual absentee ballot, they can't just decide to show up at the polls on Election Day and vote 'normally'. If they do, they will be required to cast a provisional ballot, which is ordinarily used if eligibility can’t be determined on the spot – perhaps the signature doesn’t match up or the person is not on the voter rolls. In this case, however, the provisional ballots will be used as a precaution against people voting twice. The downside of the process is that provisional ballots can’t be opened until 10 days after the election – a big problem if there are enough ballots to possibly decide the state.
As of Oct. 26, Ohio election officials had mailed out 1.3 [million] absentee ballots. Of those absentee ballots, 950,000 had been completed and mailed back in.
That leaves some 350,000 absentee ballots that had been requested and sent to voters, but had not yet been received. […]
Ordinarily, the number of provisional ballots outstanding in Ohio probably would be inconsequential. In 2008, according to the Enquirer, only about 70,000 were actually cast.
But uncertainly over perhaps a quarter-million votes would be a serious concern in Ohio, given the historically close margins of victory there.
Democrat Jimmy Carter carried Ohio by only about 11,000 votes over incumbent Republican President Gerald Ford in 1976. In 2004, GOP President George W. Bush carried the state by 118,775 votes over Democratic Sen. John Kerry, in a controversial finish that occurred during Blackwell’s tenure as secretary of state. […]
If the voter turnout in Ohio matches the 2008 level of 67 percent, some 5,226,000 votes would be cast. Under that scenario, 250,000 provisional ballots would amount to 4.8 percent of the entire vote — well over the current difference between the two candidates, according to Real Clear Politics poll average.
Of course, there’s no way of knowing ahead of Election Day just how many provisional ballots will need to be counted. But in the event it’s a significant number – enough to put a hold on calling Ohio and perhaps the entire race – it will most certainly “bring to mind the historic 2000 post-election battle in Florida.” Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio’s former secretary of state, told Newsmax that in the event the ‘nightmare’ happens, “You’re talking about craziness for 10 days.” I think it's safe to say that's an understatement.
A new Rasmussen poll out today shows Ohio’s Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown up two points, 50-48, against his Republican challenger and state Treasurer Josh Mandel. The latest poll shifts Rasmussen’s rating of the race from ‘Leans Democrat’ back to ‘Toss-Up.’
Although polling has fluctuated vastly throughout the race (another CBS/NYT/Quinnipiac poll out today, for example, has Brown up 9 points, albeit with a D+8 sample) one constant has been the incredible amount of spending from outside groups in the race.
Long before Josh Mandel came to the forefront as the GOP challenger outside groups were spending big to take out the first-term incumbent and one of the most liberal in the Senate.
Crossroads GPS spokesman Nate Hodson said his group, which has criticized Brown on energy, health care and the $16 trillion national debt, "began airing issue ads to shape the policy debate in the U.S. Senate from one which advocated for more spending, debt, and government like Sherrod Brown supports to one focused on creating jobs and opportunity." It wasn't about supporting Mandel specifically, he said, adding that any Republican would be preferable to Brown.
Asked why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce jumped in so early, spokeswoman Blair Latoff said it was "because of Sherrod Brown's record of failure on issues important to the business community," including health care, increased regulations and domestic energy production.
The spending from outside groups hasn’t abated, either. Outside groups are hitting Brown on everything from foreign policy to healthcare. Rand Paul’s PAC, for example, ran a TV spot against Senate Democrats who oppose his efforts to stop foreign aid spending to Pakistan, Libya and Egypt. The ad tailored to the Buckeye State hits Brown for voting "to send billions of our taxpayer dollars to countries where radicals storm our embassies, burn our flag and kill our diplomats." The Association for Builders and Contractors hit Brown for “rubber stamping job-killing regulations,” the 60 Plus Association went after him for the stimulus and the Government Integrity Fund pits a ‘young Sherrod Brown’ who “voted for Ohio” against today’s Sherrod Brown who “votes the party line.” Collectively, outside groups have spent more than $19 million in TV and radio ads against the Senator - more than anyone else in Congress, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads alone have spent $9.2 million in the Ohio Senate race.
The question is: Will it work?
With a newspaper poll showing the race in Ohio tied at 49 percent over the weekend and a new Rasmussen poll out today that shows Romney up 50-48 among likely voters, momentum in the Buckeye State is on Romney’s side. But as Ohio’s State Director Scott Jennings explains in a memo, momentum for Romney is being seen in more than just the polls, extending to grassroots voter contact, newspaper endorsements, events and early-voting statistics as well. The state of the race in Ohio is now a dead heat, “with Romney tracking toward victory on Election Day,” according to Jennings. Gov. John Kasich agrees.
On NBC’s Meet the Press, Kasich told David Gregory on Sunday that he’s confident Romney will take Ohio:
“The first debate gave people a chance to see, well, you know, they thought, well Romney is smart, he knows all this and that, but he doesn’t get me. In that first debate, I believe that he was able to connect with people. And they said you know, maybe he does get me. And-- and that was an important part of why there’s such momentum in the state of Ohio right now. Look, it’s very close, but I believe right now we are currently ahead. Internal show is currently ahead. I honestly think that-- that Romney is going to carry Ohio. And, you know, I haven’t been saying this. I now believe it’s going to happen.”
When asked if we’ll know the outcome of Ohio on election night Kasich said yes, adding that the election will not be as close as people are predicting.
“Yeah, I mean, I-- I don’t know. It’s going to be very close. But yes, I do think that we will know before the end of the night. Because I-- I tell you something, the independent voters are trending heavily towards Mitt Romney. And with those numbers like that, it-- it pretty well assures me we are going to know. I’m not sure the election is going to be as close as what everybody is talking about today. And I’m not saying that to do spin. I'm telling that because that’s what I really do believe.”
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