President Obama's call for the Senate to ratify a hemispheric small-firearms treaty dominated his last visit to Mexico, but in the four months since, both the treaty pledge and the drug violence that prompted it have dropped off the radar – a victim of Congress' full schedule and gun politics.
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That means on Sunday Mr. Obama will go with an empty hand to Mexico, which blames the U.S. for many of the weapons used by drug cartels that have violently thwarted a crackdown by Mexican authorities.
And even though Mr. Obama and his administration have accepted that blame, prospects are dim for passage of the treaty, which calls on countries to license gun manufacturers and try to control illicit trafficking in firearms, ammunition and explosives.
The chief U.S. negotiator for the 1997 treaty, known by its Spanish acronym of CIFTA, says it was written specifically to avoid forcing the U.S. to change its laws, and says it does not give any other country a say over what is legal or illegal in the U.S. – and that gun-rights groups were even involved in writing parts of the treaty.
But the National Rifle Association now claims CIFTA could hurt hunters and says U.S. Second Amendment interests should not be controlled by an international treaty. Key senators such as Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat whose gun-rights credentials may be crucial to his winning re-election next year, was cool to Mr. Obama's call for ratification in April, and a spokesman said nothing has changed since. Read more