THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
November 14, 1997
OAS Convention Against Illicit Firearms Trafficking
The United States and its partners in the Organization of American States today signed the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, the first international agreement designed to prevent, combat, and eradicate illegal trafficking in firearms, ammunition, and explosives.
The Convention will make the citizens of the hemisphere safer by helping to
shut down the gray and black arms markets that fuel the violence associated
with drug trafficking, terrorism, and international organized crime. The
initiative responds to President Clinton's call to the international community
three years ago at the United Nations, and is part of the Administration's
broader efforts -- with our partners in the Summit of the Eight and through
independent steps -- to address this serious transnational danger.
Initially proposed by Mexico and negotiated in the last seven months, the
Convention is an outstanding example of the contribution that the OAS is making
to the security of our hemisphere.
While strengthening our ability to eradicate illicit arms trafficking, this
agreement protects the legal trade in firearms, and does not discourage or
diminish the lawful ownership and use of firearms.
Key Provisions of the Convention
Export, Import, and Transit Licenses
To help ensure that arms are transferred
to legitimate users, parties to the Convention are required to establish or
maintain an effective licensing or authorization system for the export, import,
and transit of firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials.
States may not permit firearms to be exported or transited across their borders
without proper licensing from the receiving and in-transit countries.
Marking of Firearms
To improve the ability to track down the sources of
illegal firearms, parties to the Convention are obligated to require, at the
time of manufacture, the marking of firearms with the name, place of
manufacture, and serial number. Similar markings are required for imported
firearms. U.S. manufacturers and importers currently follow this practice.
Criminalization of Illicit Arms Production and Sales
Nations that have not already done so are required to adopt laws and regulations criminalizing the illicit manufacture of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and related materials.
Consistent with their national laws, parties will share
information on legislative practices and other national measures to combat
illicit trafficking; techniques used to combat money laundering related to
illicit transfers; routes customarily used by criminal organizations engaged in
illicit trafficking; and the means of concealment used and ways of detecting
Law Enforcement and Regulatory Cooperation
Parties agree to cooperate with one another in the effort to eradicate arms trafficking through the establishment of a single point of contact that will act as the formal liaison among states.
Technical Assistance and Training
States agree to cooperate to better ensure adequate training in such areas as identification and tracing; intelligence gathering; and detection methods and search protocols at borders.
The Administration's Program Against Illicit Trafficking
U.S. support for the OAS Convention is part of the Administration's broader
effort to address the problem of illicit international firearms trafficking.
At the request of the President, the State and Treasury
Departments have undertaken an intensified country-by-country review of
applications for licenses to export firearms, ammunition, and explosives from
the United States to ensure that exported weapons are not diverted to illicit
OAS Model Regulations
The United States has worked with its OAS partners to produce Model Regulations 8 governing the transfer of firearms. The Model Regulations to Control the Movement of Firearms, Ammunition, and Firearms Parts and Components, 8 drafted by a group of experts of the OAS Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), were agreed in Lima earlier this month. The President has directed the State Department to begin to implement these regulations immediately and to encourage regulatory and licensing authorities
in other countries to do the same.
Arms Brokering Legislation
The President has signed legislation amending the
Arms Export Control Act to give the State Department greater authority to
monitor and regulate the activities of arms brokers. The amendment closes a
loophole in US law that had permitted brokers with US ties to act as middlemen
for arms transactions conducted abroad, without being subject to US laws and
Vigilance at Our Borders
To ensure the continued integrity of our borders, the Administration has made prevention of illegal arms trafficking a priority. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the U.S. Customs service have recently intensified their interdiction and investigative efforts at borders. The Attorney General has directed U.S. attorneys along the southwest border to begin a dedicated effort to prosecute traffickers, large and small, caught attempting to smuggle firearms across the border.
Residency Requirements for Gun Purchasers
To contribute to the safety of citizens on both sides of our southern border, the President announced earlier this year that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms will tighten up the residency requirements for aliens purchasing firearms from dealers in the United States. Regulations have been issued requiring aliens to prove they have been residents for at least 90 days in the state where they are trying to buy a gun.
The United States is working with its partners in the Group of Eight and through the UN Crime Commission to expand cooperation on combating illicit arms trafficking.