9/95 They’re Gonna GATT Your Guns

They’re Gonna GATT Your Guns
Larry Pratt
Executive Director
Gun Owners of America
(written for National Crime Monthly in 1995)

GATT represents a transfer to sovereignty from the United States to the World Trade Organization (WTO). According to Rep. Newt Gingrich who testified earlier last year before the Ways and Means Committee: “The World Trade Organization is a de facto transfer of authority from the U.S. to Geneva, Switzerland.”

William Holder, the Deputy General Counsel of the International Monetary Fund told a WTO conference at the American University on November 19, 1994 that, “The WTO is de jure world government.”

Article 16, paragraph 4 of the WTO charter (which is part of the GATT legislation) states that each government “shall ensure the conformity of its laws, regulations and administrative procedures with its obligations….” This is the language that lays out what Gingrich and Holder were talking about. To understand the significance and the broad reach of this language, we need to see how the commerce clause of our U.S. constitution has been distorted into a way of justifying government intervention into anything the planners in Washington want to regulate. Then we will be able to understand the danger of the WTO charter’s language.

When the commerce clause was included in the U.S. Constitution it was intended to keep states from interfering with trade between states. In other words, Virginia could not prohibit Maryland timber from being sold in Virginia nor could Maryland put a tariff on Virginia tobacco being sold in Maryland.

In the wake of the Roosevelt revolution, the commerce clause was expanded to govern everything because everything has been in commerce. It has been this distorted view of the commerce clause that provided the rationale for forcing gun dealers to get a federal license. Similarly, the same view of the commerce clause justified requiring all sales of new guns to go through dealers. It should be perfectly obvious that this view goes way beyond prohibiting trade restrictions between states. The commerce clause has justified increasingly restrictive federal gun controls. Of course, a lot of other unconstitutional federal action has been justified by the commerce clause, but that is not the point here.

Guns are clearly protected in the United States Constitution, yet the federal government is shameless in the business of infringing the right to keep and bear arms without a constitutional amendment. Before the days of the distortion of the commerce clause, the prohibition of alcoholic beverages — which are not even protected in the Constitution — required a constitutional amendment.

So it is with alarm that we should view the language of GATT and the presumption in the GATT treaty that everything can be regulated because everything enters commerce. The recent GATT vote (cast by members who had not read the 26,000 pages of text) was the equivalent of the constitutional convention of 1787 — only nobody called it that and its significance was never brought into focus.

The U.S. will have only one vote and no veto in the WTO. Any two other governments could gang up on the U.S. to object to its policy of “allowing” widespread civilian firearms ownership (something already under discussion in the U.N). They could raise environmental objections. This may seem silly, but then, what are we to say of the Federal government’s inclusion of virtual desert lands up to 50 miles from the Rio Grande river as a wetlands and then subject the private uses of that land to tree hugging extremism?

The European Union used to be called the European Common Market. It was a European version of the World Trade Organization. Now the socialist governors in the European capital of Brussels presume to call themselves the European Union. Increasingly they are succeeding in the sublimation of the sovereignty of member nations to the Brussels government.

At least our U.S. Constitution has a commerce clause with a very restrictive original intent. There is no such limitation built into GATT and the WTO. If the linkage of banning guns with trade practices does not satisfy the one world impulse to disarm the planet, then the international commerce clause language in the WTO will be argued as a sufficient justification for the Geneva gnomes where the WTO is headquartered to regulate anything they want. Just the way the socialists in the U.S. have been arguing for the last 60 years.