The O.A.S. and C.I.F.T.A.
Ladies and gentlemen, I come to you with grim news. A dormant beast has been reawakened by our esteemed, (choke) president. The beast goes by the name of CIFTA, which, for the sake of my shift key, I will refrain from continuing to spell in all caps. Over the next few paragraphs, I will attempt to educate you on just what this thing is and why you should be afraid of it. You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of liberalism and ignorance, but of no guns. Prepare to enter, the Cifta Zone.
Before we set off on our journey through Dante’s eighth circle of Hell, I feel it is important you know where exactly these thoughts are coming from. I am but a citizen of this nation still kicking at the ripe old age of 18. I recognize the importance of family and good morals as much as the next staunch conservative, and am willing to fight to uphold these values. As such, I am a gun owner and card-carrying member of the NRA. I voted (a quality which sets me apart from far too many people) and despite my best efforts, a Kenyan is running the country. If this were an autobiography, I would be compelled to continue, but I feel the preceding will suffice, as we have more important matters to attend to.
So, what is this all about? Well, it all started back in 1948 with the founding of the O.A.S., or, “Organization of American States”, which in short is basically a version of the European Union for the Western Hemisphere. The OAS includes pretty much every independent country this side of the Prime Meridian (Cuba has been on suspension since 1962 for being a very naughty island). When 1997 rolled around, a gun control treaty was hatched by OAS and was enthusiastically signed by Clinton (no surprise there). This thing’s name is Cifta, a long Spanish acronym that translates to, “Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Materials.” Now here’s the kicker. Although Clinton signed Cifta, the Senate never ratified it. Phew! Another lucky break brought to you by Slick Willie. However, Obama, being the first democrat president since Clinton, has renewed the initiative. At the April 2009 OAS meeting, he announced his intention to send Cifta off to the Senate and urge immediate ratification. Our 12 year break is over. Cifta is about to come out no-guns blazing.
Cifta can most easily be understood in two parts, the first of which is the explicit requirement of individual nation’s legislative systems to establish laws and punishment for the “illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives and other related materials” hence the name. This is the pretty straightforward portion, dictating that every nation of the OAS must, if they have not already done so, establish under their respective domestic law, that not only illicit manufacture and trafficking be punishable, but the, “participation in, association or conspiracy to commit, and aiding, abetting, facilitating, and counseling the commission of said offenses” as well. Basically if you are an illegal gun or ammo manufacturer, help one, conspire to be one, attempt to be one, encourage someone else to be one, or know of one without alerting proper authorities, then you are held accountable and are punishable under law. So at first it seems like Cifta isn’t all that bad. I mean, really all it says is that we should crack down harder on the illegal manufacture and movement of guns, right? That’s all good, right? Oh just you wait for what’s coming up next.
The second part of our, “Cake of Easy Understanding” (patent pending) is what exactly Cifta defines as a manufacturer. After all, laws are no good unless you can tell who it is that’s breaking them. Under current law, a manufacturer is defined as anyone who enters into the construction of the receiver portion of the firearm, with the intent of repeatedly entering into business transactions that allow them to profit from such products. Thus, those that construct the barrels, stocks, scopes, grips, or anything but the receiver, are not considered gun manufacturers, and require no license as such. Before I continue, I want you to think of what you would picture as a gun manufacturer. Thoughts of a factory line with thousands of guns being assembled, maybe a small time specialty business, or an old school good old fashioned gunsmith. Any of these? Well, Cifta is about to add some new pictures to that album. I’m not a doctor, but I think for your safety you should sit down for this one. According to Cifta a manufacturer is someone who engages in the, “manufacture or assembly of firearms, ammunition, explosives and other related materials.” Sounds pretty straightforward like the first part, but there’s a catch. Cifta also considers the manufacturers of all firearm accessories to be gun manufacturers themselves, and thus require an appropriate license. Accessories include everything from the aforementioned scopes and stocks right down to rifle straps. Furthermore, assembly is defined by Cifta as the actual attachment of any of these things to a firearm itself. Think about that. Now to put this into realistic terms…
So what does this mean for you? Well, basically, if you want to swap the scope out on that new Remington you just bought, or get a new grip for your Glock, you legally have to be a registered and licensed gun manufacturer to attach them. Yes, even in the privacy of your own home. Any modification to the parts of a firearm must be done by a legal manufacturer, otherwise you are subject to all those, “harsher laws” we talked about in the first part. Consider this scenario: You have a buddy who shares your passion for guns, and suggests a scope for you to try to improve your shoddy ability with that rifle your grandpappy gave you. Well, if you go and slap this puppy on without a manufacturer’s license, not only are you eligible for criminal prosecution for illegal gun assembly, but that buddy of yours is also punishable for counseling such behavior. Essentially, if you modify your weapons without a manufacturer’s license, or even suggest how someone else might modify theirs, you’re considered no better under the law than a gun runner from over the border. Keep in mind, these same manufacture and assembly laws apply to ammunition too, so no more home reloading without that trusty license. This coupled with the recent announcement that all ammunition created by manufacturers would be required to have serial numbers stamped on the cases, means that all legally crafted ammo, including that which is made at home, would be required to have a handy serial number, because we’re all gun manufacturers now, remember?
So what if you’re alright with all of this? You like your guns and you like making your own ammo, and you’re okay with getting a manufacturers license so you can continue your hobby in a legal fashion. Good for you. Just know what you’re getting yourself into. As a manufacturer, you will be required to pay a special tax (because there’s always one of those) and keep careful records of everything you assemble. Not so bad, right? But remember, assembly occurs any time you put together or attach a scope, barrel, strap, etc. Say you clean your favorite hunting rifle. You take the shoulder strap and scope off, and remove the firing mechanism from the stock. Maybe you really want to give that scope a going over, so you take it apart too. After cleaning everything (expertly of course, you little gun manufacturer you) you re-insert the mechanism, re-attach the strap, and re-assemble and attach the scope. Well, according to Cifta, that’s four assembly processes which have to be logged and kept on record. Furthermore, these records are freely accessible for inspection once per year by BATFE, and an unlimited quantity during a criminal investigation. It’s an outright invasion of rights, so where’s the second amendment in all of this? No doubt riding up on a trusty steed to save the day, says you. Think again, says I.
Cifta expertly dodges the second amendment with the help of our wonderful judicial system. According to the Fifth Amendment, “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” But this is federal, there is nothing here to prevent state law from doing this very thing. Therefore, in 1868, the 14th Amendment was ratified, stating, “no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” Basically the same thing the Fifth Amendment says, just applying the principle to individual state law. However, there wasn’t an array of various amendments explicitly decreeing that states shall not, “infringe upon free speech” or, “infringe upon the right to bear arms” and as such, all of these conditions had to be assumed to be applicable to the 14th Amendment. Thus, given there was no amendment specifically saying that states could not infringe upon any given right, these all had to be, “assumed” to be so. This is also known as, “unenumerated rights” or more simply put, unwritten rules. You know, like getting $500 for landing on free parking. Same concept. The important thing to realize here is that these unenumerated rights are virtually decided by the judicial system through, “substantive due process.” Over time, and through various Supreme Court rulings, the majority of the Bill of Rights was incorporated into the 14th Amendment, thus requiring states to abide by and not infringe upon the rights therein. However, the Supreme Court has yet to rule this of the Second Amendment. Therefore, it’s up to each of the eleven circuits for the Court of Appeals to decide for themselves, effectively making it so each one can choose whether or not to recognize the existence of the Second Amendment at the state level. To date, only the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that state law for their jurisdiction abide by the individual rights declared in the Second Amendment. So for citizens of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington State, congratulations, your state recognizes your Second Amendment rights. As for those of you in the other 41, well, not so much. In fact, the Seventh Circuit actually ruled the opposite way, saying they don’t officially recognize the Second Amendment at the state level. For the citizens of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, your state has pretty much written you off. Ultimately, this means that anyone who lives in those 41 states and commits one of the many offenses listed previously, can have their guns, ammo, and any other related property seized without due process, Second Amendment be damned.
About this time, you may be asking yourself, “How real is this? Can this actually happen?” The sad truth is that it indeed can. With Obama’s approval rating taking a satisfactory plunge, the taste is bittersweet. It was pointed out recently that Obama is of that rare breed of, “passionate politician” who will pursue his agenda even at the cost of re-election. If this is the case, I expect we will no doubt see Cifta in full swing well before Obama is out of the Black House. In addition, don’t expect a vote down from the House on this one. Remember how I said this was a treaty? Well guess what, treaties are signed by the president and ratified by a two-thirds vote from the Senate. The House of Representatives never sees it. This means that once this thing passes, those of us that choose to be legal at home gun manufacturers are subject to the tax that goes along with it, a tax that can be freely manipulated. Thus we have a situation where we are suddenly imposed with a tax through an internationally sanctioned treaty without our elected representatives in the House able to have any say. That’s honest to God taxation without representation. Couple that with free search and seizure of firearms and accessories at the government’s discretion in over forty states, and the picture seems all too familiar. Didn’t this happen once around two-hundred thirty years ago?
In conclusion, I hope this has left all of you with at least a half decent understanding of just what implications not only Cifta can bring, but this entire destructive administration we are under. Keep in mind it has only been six months. My greatest hope, on this, the fortieth anniversary of man reaching the moon, is that we have not soared so high, only to fall so far.