President Donald Trump told the National Rifle Association on Friday he was pulling the United States out of an international arms treaty signed in 2013 by then-President Barack Obama but opposed by the NRA and other conservative groups, Reuters reported.
Trump told members of the gun lobby at an annual meeting he intends to revoke the status of the United States as a signatory to the Arms Trade Treaty, which was never ratified by the U.S. Senate.
“We’re taking our signature back,” Trump said to thousands of cheering attendees, many wearing red hats emblazoned with the Republican President’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
On Twitter, Trump called the decision a defense of “American sovereignty.” In reversing the U.S. position on the pact, he wrote, “We will never allow foreign bureaucrats to trample on your Second Amendment freedoms.”
The NRA has long opposed the treaty, which regulates the $70 billion business in conventional arms and seeks to keep weapons out of the hands of human rights abusers. The lobbying group argues it would undermine domestic gun rights, a view the Obama administration rejected, Reuters adds.
The agreement covers weapons exports, ranging from small firearms to tanks, but not domestic sales. Trump said the United Nations would soon receive formal notice of the withdrawal.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric called the treaty “a landmark achievement in the efforts to ensure responsibility in international arms transfers.” U.N. officials said they were unaware Trump had been planning to revoke the U.S. signature.