• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Koh’s Goal for the Legal Trade in Arms: Ban It

    Harold Koh, the nominee for Legal Adviser to the State Department, supports “the global regulation of small arms” and a “global gun control regime.” And he believes it is “needlessly provocative” for any U.S. representative to refer to the right to bear arms when speaking to a foreign audience: the very mention of the Second Amendment, apparently, is offensive. That has very serious implications for domestic policy, but what does Koh want to do with the legal, international arms trade? The answer is simple: he wants to ban it.

    In 2002, Koh spoke on the subject at Fordham Law School. In his remarks, he emphasized the importance of what he called “bright-line norms,” i.e. absolute rules. A bright-line norm that we can all endorse, for example, is that human slavery is wrong. But Koh wants a great many more such norms. One of them is against the production and use of antipersonnel landmines. That, though, is only the start. Koh then noted regretfully that “we are a long way from persuading governments to accept a flat ban on the trade of legal arms.” The emphasis was his.

    Yes, a complete ban on the international trade of all arms. Not even a ban on the trade of arms in peacetime, though that would be no better: a flat ban on the arms trade, period. If Koh’s doctrine won out, even the Lend Lease Agreement in World War II, under which the U.S. supplied weapons to nations resisting Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, would have been illegal. So would the U.S. supply of weapons to its allies who resisted Communism during the Cold War. So, of course, would U.S. arms sales to Israel and many other close allies, including Britain, today.

    The kindest thing that can be said about this idea is that it makes no sense. If all states had to rely for their defense on weapons they made themselves, most small to mid-sized states would be completely indefensible. Not even the U.S. makes all of its own weapons, and all the parts that go into them. Banning the trade in legal arms would make U.S. defense considerably more expensive, and expose virtually every other democracy in the world to unresistable attack from, or blackmail by, dictatorships.

    This is not a path to peace: it is a prescription for ferocious wars of aggression by the large, strong, and tyrannical against the small, weak, and democratic. As long ago as 1934, Winston Churchill pointed out the fallacy of the belief that disarming the good will discourage the bad: as he put it, the overnight abolition of gunpowder would only result in savage wars launched by men with spears.

    And that is not merely a rhetorical flourish, as the terrible experience of Rwanda demonstrates. Koh’s belief that the trade in legal arms needs to go is nothing more than magical thinking at its worst: it blames the arms trade, not bad governments or totalitarian ideologies, for the evils of the world. And that is not merely wrong: it poses a serious danger to the stability and peace of the democratic world.

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    41 Responses to Koh’s Goal for the Legal Trade in Arms: Ban It

    1. Barb -mn says:

      It is time for the people of the world to take a stand against GOVERNMENT'S thievery of the birthrite of freedom. People of the world, it is the duty of all to put government in it's place.

    2. Barb -mn says:

      As America's 1st amendment to the constitution continues to be denied, a previous post suggests it's time to use the 2nd. Are you with us, people of the world?

    3. Larry, in the Republ says:

      It is because of the 2nd Amendment that all other rights can be defended! That is, the 2nd Amendment IS HOMELAND SECURITY!! AS it has been said before-my right to keep and bear arms is GOD given, not Liberal Democrat given. In short, what GOD has destined no man can put usunder. As for anyone else in this world who gets agitated OR offended about MY GOD given right to protect my family and defend my home front and property I say this: " I feel for you, I just can't reach you!

    4. JAC Pa says:

      Again, were they not wise when they wrote the 2nd Amendment? Anyone who thinks that guns are actually the problem will one day hope to ban any instrumentality of death, like cars, trains, planes, dogs, boats, arrows, chains, well the list of objects that can kill is endless. Oh, yeah they will need to add people to that list too.

    5. Lynn B. DeSpain says:

      I don't care what anyone but an American has to say our our Ammendment rights, and even they better not be messing with them. They are not there for some damn popularity contest!


    6. Frank Florida says:

      As I remember Cain killed Abel long before guns were even thought of. It is not the object, but rather, the MISUSE of the object which constitutes the crime, or if I may be so UN-P.C., the sin.

    7. Richard, Washington says:

      All of you are completely missing the point. Koh's proposal is not about the Second Amendment, or even the First. It is about surrendering the primacy of our Constitution as the supreme body of laws in this country to transnationalism. KOH WANTS TO SCRAP OUR CONSTITUTION AND LET THE REST OF THE WORLD RUN THIS COUNTRY. His is arrogance of the highest order. If he gets his way he would wield more power than even the man who has nominated him for his office, Barack Obama himself. Unfortunately, Obama has the same weltanschauung, or world view, so it is unlikely that Koh will be overruled.

      There is one last chance that Koh will not prevail. He has thus far not been confirmed by the Senate for his position. Maybe, just maybe, the Senate will see the danger in confirming him, and reject his nomination.

    8. NEAL RASMUSSEN says:


    9. Helen.Homestead,Fl says:

      Bush has been gutting the Constitution with the Patriot Act I & II ,and executive orders are in place to move to the NAU and the Amero by 2010.None of this has gone thru Congress.Additionally Obama wants to sign on to many treatries with the UN.That means the end of the USA as we know it and being under theflag and the international law of the UN .END of the USA!!!!

    10. Steve-Yulee, FL says:

      What Mr. Koh apparently fails to realize is that the Second Amendment is itself a "bright line norm." In fact, the Bill of Rights, in-toto, is a "bright line norm." But then, Mr. Koh, like many of his fellow travelers, acknowledge the Constitution only when convenient.

    11. GW Starch III, Tulsa says:

      In short: Who the hell is KOH? So he is a nominee for what is probably a lucrative appointment. What else do we know about him, other than he is clearly a leftist anti-gun type.

    12. Richard, Washington says:

      Helen, you need to get your Constitution facts straight. The Patriot Act was exactly that: a law, written and passed by the Congress and signed by the President as provided in the Constitution. Congress had everything to do with it. One of the first responsibilities of government is to keep the population safe. This law was used by the Bush Administration to KEEP US SAFE for over seven years. If you want to discuss gutting the Constitution, what about all of Obama's socialist programs? Just name one and you'll be hitting it out of the park.

    13. R Cavolo says:

      Mr Koh when not wetting his pants when he sees or hears the sound of gun rights is doing his best to disarm all of us through the side door of the U.N. I say let's keep the children safe with good gun instruction and a gun curriculum in the schools. That's from an ex NYC teacher of 32 years. It could be done. Bull doze the U.N. and give the children a park in NYC.

    14. Ken St Louis says:

      I wonder where Obubba, no thats and insult to any good country boy, I wonder where or moron president finds the idiots he recommends for positions in our government? He, and most of them need to be run off!

    15. Christy Willimantic says:

      Even thought Koh and his ilk would like to see the Bill of Rights disappear, they are here to stay unless a majority of the states ratifies a new amendment or dissolves an existing one. Not going to happen in his life time. The UN (a useless, money-sucking, corrupt organization) does not take precendence over the U.S. Constitution, nor do our laws fall subservient to foreign laws. Plain and simple. I hope this yutz (koh) does not get confirmed, but even if he does he cannot subvert the U.S. Constitution to his distorted will. What a bunch of nitwits we have in charge now. These second amendment and U.S. freedoms haters care not one whit about murder rates or gun crime. They care only about control and they want to control you and me. Saying guns are responsible for crime is like saying spoons are responsible for people being obese. Pure nonsense and totally illogical.

    16. Pingback: Koh Wants Global Gun Control. « The View from Southern California

    17. Michael, Troy says:

      I have a lot to say about this but I think most of you have said it already. All I know is if we don't stand up to this tyranny we are going to be in a world of hurt. Everything that we have fought for in these last 233 years is going down the drain thanks to these Ultra Liberal weinies we have running this country. Watch out what you say or you'll be listed as a right wing extremist and the government will take all your rights away.


    18. Bill, Kansas says:

      “The principles contained in the Declaration of Independence are saving principles. Stand-by those principles; be true to them

      on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.”

      – Frederick Douglas –

    19. Jack L Wyman; Mareng says:

      George Washington wanted everyone to attend school. He even advocated the Indians have schools and it came to pass some 20 to 30 years after his death. It was also his intention that all be educated not indoctrinated.

      The UN is the parent parasite where all of this group think begins. Get rid of the UN if you want to neuter the socialists. Let the Port Authority take over the building as replacement for the Twin Towers.

    20. pacific_waters says:

      christy: You don't think our constitution can be gutted quite easily? Think again. By what constitutional authority does zero award 55% of Chrysler to the UAW?

    21. David, Oregon says:

      The Founders were not stupid. If anyone believes that the Second Amendment was not placed there just after the vaunted First's protection of religion, public gathering, and expression, they'd best re-read history lest they be condemned to repeat it.

      We overthrew George IIIs imperial shackles and our Bill of Rights to the Constitution were a government power LIMITING document.

      While GWB may have "kept us safe," he is just as guilty of expanding the reach of the all pervasive Federal government as Obama now is. Witness this by his creation of the cabinet level "Homeland Security" department, which BHO is now using to advance his anti-gun bias by creating lists of possible "terrorists" to include anti-abortion, pro-gun, anti-tax, and anti-illegal immigration groups as people to be watched.

      Stay informed, is all I can say.

    22. gary-florida and Kuw says:

      I just started reading a book by Wayne LaPierre. " The Global War On Your Guns", and as Richard of Washington state so eloquenly puts it, this is a bout gutting OUR Constitution !

      The UN is trying and has tried for a number of years to make us impotent and ripe for regulation by the UN.

      It is one reason that Ambassador Bolton was so hated and reviled by the Democrats, he stood for the US and would not let them diassemble our Constituton.

      We really need to be aware of the likes of Mr. Koh, but farther, we need to keep aware of the type and ilk of Judge nominees that Obama puts forth.

      When they start taling about the Constitution being a " living", or " evolving", or changing document, we need to be screaming about it to our representatives.

      WE, freedom loving, good Americans, with a love of liberty and sovereignty, must stand for our country. This administration hates us, and they will do whatever it takes to make sure we are silent and exercise control over us!

      This is tyranny folks, plain and simple. If we dont stand here, we will all be subjects!!

      We are right, they are wrong!!

      Engage and get involved, call your Senators, your Congressman, join the NRA, go to meetings in your towns, keep your ears and eys open for new restrictions on our freedoms. Look for " creative" wording for old laws.

    23. Mr. Nightmare, Atlan says:

      Koh is just another left-wing moron. He and his boss, the Messiah, want to change the name of this country to the USSA, the United Socialist States of America. Us conservatives have to stand up and fight… The further left this country heads under the Messiah, the more people are going to realize that the USA is going away… It takes conservative voices to overcome the lies coming out of the White House. We all have to get together and shout down the lies or this country that I love and spent many years defending will cease to exist as we know it…..

    24. Woodpiggie, New York says:

      Definately time to draw the line!

    25. Jack, Tulsa Oklahoma says:

      All I can say that I will go down FIGHTING and my guns will be empty before the take them or my family and I. Even My mother age 83 is still a fighter and I growed up with guns by all doors. When you live in the country you never know what may be trying to get into the house. May it be person or a rattle snake. Yes we had them come in front screen door. Taste pretty good!

    26. Christy Willimantic says:

      Sad to say, pacific waters, that you are correct that our precious Constitution is being violated every day. These massive bailouts and spending our nation into oblivion are also examples. So, we need to kick all these people to the curb next election cycle and replace these traitors with people who will uphold the Constitution and rule of law. My fear, is that people will not awaken from their lethargy and start voting them out.

    27. Vinnie Florida says:

      I'm glad mentioning the Second Amendment is so offensive. Now I have something I can irritate them with. We (true Americans) have never asked them for their input in our affairs, anyway.

    28. Elijah, Arizona says:

      So, rather than try to take on the U.S. citizenry, he side-steps, like Obama, by going to international groups to avoid showing that they are violating their post of office to "defend and protect the Constitution of the United States of America". Now, if I am not wrong, doesn't everything they have been doing going against, if not dismantling, the Constitution that they have sworn to protect? I say impeach these traitors for violation of their oaths to us, and the God they swore to when they took office.

    29. Jeff La. & Texa says:

      When I was sworn in as an officer in the USAF it was to protect the US and the Constitution, from all … foriegn and domestic … seems like the USA is under attack from within and from without. The bad thing is we need to ask the people that won't work to support the constitution to leave, ASAP. The damage is done. The UN is not our friend nor worthy of support. It is a parasite.

    30. Tom L. says:

      Well sir, the last thing we would want to do is make a needlessly provocative comment to the U.N; an organization that currently supports 80 terrorists states around the world.

      I suppose we are to simply overlook comments made by the U.N. and other foreign officials, such as the president of Mexico, attempting to strip our Constitutional liberties from us.

      Here is a message for Mr. Coe and his boss, many of us have no desire to be part of your new world order. We will be citizens under the Contitution of the United States of America; not subjects under laws or treaties of the U.N.

      Do you remember what the Contitution is Mr. Coe, you know, that little inconvenient document your boss swore on a bible to PROTECT, DEFEND, and UPHOLD.

    31. Jim R. Wi. says:

      The only thing that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing. Its not enough to just talk the talk. We better be willing to walk the walk. So suit up, show up, and speak up! Get involved and stay involved. Freedom has never been for free. Its always been worth fighting for. Enough said.

    32. Mary, Indianapolis, says:

      KOH IS ON THE SHORT LIST FOR POSSIBLE REPLACEMENT OF SUETER ON THE SUPREME COURT. WHAT CAN WE DO TO STOP THIS? We all know it will be a liberal appointed but Koh is a new world order anti-constitutionalist and a real danger in the position he is in now, let alone as a court judge for life. We must make it know that this person is unacceptable..what can we do? Heritage..please go on Fox News-expose Koh. We can't let this go the way of the HHS appointment with the anti-life Sebelus.

      Heaven help us, it just gets worse by the day!

      wake up, Americans..wake up..pray



    33. Heartland Patriot, H says:

      This whole thing is the machinations of one George Soros, the embodiment of evil. If there was ever a human who would be like Dr. No of James Bond fame, it would be Soros. He and his acolytes wish America to be reduced in stature and subjected to total control; they MUST rid America of firearms to accomplish this. It is not the mere USE of firearms that they fear, it is the OWNERSHIP of them and the POTENTIAL to resist tyranny that they fear. The people of the United States of America have been lulled into a SHEEPLE status…they MUST wake up…WE, Patriots, MUST make midnight rides, daylight rides, non-seasing rides to warn them, like the honored Paul Revere…and we must all hang together, or otherwise, we shall surely hang separately!

    34. Sons of Liberty says:

      "We established however some, although not all its [self-government] important principles. The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed;" — Thomas Jefferson to John Cartwright, 1824. Memorial Edition 16:45, Lipscomb and Bergh, editors.

      "Our legislators are not sufficiently apprized of the rightful limits of their power; that their true office is to declare and enforce only our natural rights… and to take none of them from us. No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another; and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him… and the idea is quite unfounded, that on entering into society we give up any natural right." — Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Francis W. Gilmer (June 27, 1816); The Writings of Thomas Jefferson edited by Ford, vol. 10, p. 32.

      "…What country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify if a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure…." — Thomas Jefferson: Letter to Colonel Smith, Nov. 13, 1787

    35. Old shooter, Texas says:

      So doesn't this anti-constitutional moron have to swear "to uphold and defiend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic," if he takes office? How can anyone believe his oath of office, if he does so? I'd suggest that he needs to be questioned about exactly when and why he experienced his heart-changing epiphany about our Constitution. If it doesn't sound believable, he should be denied the right to take such an oath, much less serve in such an office.

    36. Pro gunner says:

      Americans, we need to wake up and smell the coffee…This liberal dominated government is very close to properly positioning all it's chess pieces in order to destroy America as we once knew her. The global conspriracy to take control and tear apart out great nation is close to succeeding. Americans, we must maintain vigilance, vehemently write/call our government represenatives and finally stand firm against the dark storms of tyranny that are approaching. Change in the Conservative direction begins with undoing the indoctrination of our youths that liberal professors and college educators have imposed on our children. Americans, I urge you to support the Conservative movement and return this country to it's proud respected position on the global stage….It's almost never too late…

    37. Tom Wizneski, Virgin says:

      I understand the view that the offensive use of force must be checked. We live in an increasingly "civilized" society (our feminine half being the civilizing influence).

      But rather than halt the offensive use of weapons, all the left seems able to do is halt the defensive use of weapons.

      It's not about gun control: It's about control.

      It's not about gun rights: It's about rights.

    38. california says:

      Vote or get screwed. Remember what you say may come back to bite you.

    39. Renee, California says:

      Yes, if necessary to the protection of our lives and freedoms, we would use our arms. Our freedom is worth it. We will NOT allow the government to lead us into socialism, communism, or anything else that would make us anything other than the United States that we have always known. The US Constitution IS supreme, over any federal government. Feds- are you listening to WE THE PEOPLE????

    40. SSG Ernie, KS and Ir says:

      I don't have much time to spend on blogging, etc. However, from time to time, I come across an article that interests me, and I peruse the comments. This generally results in elevated blood pressure, as the vast majority of responses come from those mindless morons who blindly (or blithely) conspired to destroy our nation by electing the most radical president ever. It is heartening to read some sensible posts, for a change (I refer to those who precede me on this commentary).

      I, too, have sworn an oath to defend the Constitution of the U.S., from all enemies, foreign and domestic. I take that oath seriously, because I love my country, and I believe in God. Keep those distinctions in mind, when examining the actions of elected and appointed officials. Because of my current occupation, I am bound to obey the LAWFUL orders of my superiors. I am equally obligated to refuse, and resist, those orders that are clearly illegal or immoral. Thankfully, the majority of my peers and predecessors in military service seem to share my principles and values.

      The socialist extremists may succeed in signing U.N. treaties and subverting our national sovereignty through Congress and the courts. I guarantee, though, that anyone, especially the blue-helmetted leeches from the U.N., who attempts to capitalize on those misguided acts of treason, will surely find where the true strength of our nation lies…and it is nowhere near 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

    41. Pingback: Second Amendment Newsletter: Dave Kopel « Conservative Libertarian Outpost

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.