Will the United States ratify the Arms Trade Treaty?: A study of the emerging small arms norm and the political power of the National Rifle Association
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The international small arms norm is emerging, and soon UN member-states will have a chance to formally accept and show their commitment to the norm by signing the UN Arms Trade Treaty. Will the United States, a key member of the international community and a critical state for the small arms norm, bind itself to the norm through the ATT? The Obama administration seems very supportive of the ATT and the small arms norm. However, in order for the US to ratify the treaty, it has to be ratified by two-third majority in the US Senate. What are the chances of the US Senate ratifying the ATT? The Senate is a body that is open to domestic pressures more than to the international influences and norms. The NRA, the most influential gun lobby in the United States, is the biggest domestic pressure that senators must relate to in this context. This thesis attempts to find out how likely it is that the US Senate will ratify the ATT. In order to do this, I examine three aspects of the power of the NRA: financial resources, ability to frame the debate and to mobilize its members and other gun owners into participating in political activities, and analyze various pressures the senators are facing in regards to the ATT vote.