President Donald Trump announced Friday that the United States is withdrawing from a United Nations treaty that regulates international arms trade, arguing that the multilateral accord chips away at U.S. sovereignty.
Speaking at the National Rifle Association's annual convention in Indianapolis, the president tore into the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, which was signed in 2013 by former President Barack Obama.
"Under my administration, we will never surrender American sovereignty to anyone," Trump told attendees at the NRA gathering. "We will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your Second Amendment freedoms."
While delivering his speech, the president, on stage, signed the paperwork necessary for thwarting the ratification process.
The Hill reported on the raucous scene at the NRA convention:
"Under my administration, we will never surrender American sovereignty to anyone," Trump told the group, which erupted in applause. "We will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your Second Amendment freedoms.
Trump signed paperwork instructing the Senate to halt the ratification process, held up the document as the crowd cheered "U-S-A, U-S-A," then tossed his pen into the crowd."
Conservative groups have long opposed the Arms Trade Treaty on grounds that it threatened the sovereignty of the U.S. and hurt America's international competitive edge.
"The ATT is one of several treaties in the field of conventional and nuclear weapons that seek to constrain the ability of the United States to make decisions about how it defends itself and its allies," Theodore Bromund of the Heritage Foundation explained in a 2018 report on the treaty. "The ATT has no substantive achievements and is fundamentally unserious, but its effort to promote norms to shape U.S. policymaking poses significant risks to U.S. security."
In a fact sheet posted online after the president's speech, the White House contended that the treaty failed its primary purpose, which was to prevent "irresponsible arms transfers."
"The ATT will only constrain responsible countries while allowing the irresponsible arms trade to continue," the fact sheet added. "Currently, 63 countries are completely out of the agreement, including major arms exporters like Russia and China."
The White House release added that the move will help protect American sovereignty and advance U.S. national interests.
Although the treaty was signed by Obama, it was never ratified, a process that requires the support of two-thirds by the Senate. Congress has repeatedly banned federal funding for the arms control treaty under amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act.