The ensuing "no" campaign, as detailed in Clifford Bob's The Global Right Wing and the Clash of World Politics, was heavily influenced by the NRA's own arguments. One reporter in the country noticed that "no" campaigners appeared to have copy-pasted NRA arguments about gun "rights," which Brazilians didn't actually have. "No" campaigners got as florid as LaPierre himself, running one ad with a picture of Hitler in mid-salute and the legend: "Whoever is for Disarmament, raise your right hand!" And the "no" campaign won, by a landslide. Brazil had been "a steppingstone for the global gun-ban lobby to inflict its will on law-abiding gun owners in the United States," according to the NRA's Thomas Mason. And they'd lost.
But hadn't they lost even bigger in the United States? Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, but he was no Bill Clinton -- let alone a Lula. Firearm and ammo sales spiked. Obama didn't restore the Assault Weapons Ban. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head. But Obama made no moves whatsoever to restrict firearms.
And yet the NRA still fears a sneak attack. That's where its foreign policy comes in. Defeating the "global war on guns" means stopping Obama from making a U.N. end-run around American laws. In 2011, new NRA president David Keene -- formerly the head of the American Conservative Union -- created a new international affairs subcommittee inside the group's legislative policy committee. The man who'd run it: John Bolton. In office, during the Bush years, Bolton had earned icon status for heading to New York and warning the U.N. not to go after Americans' guns. Now that he's officially part of the NRA, Bolton adds ballast to the theory that Obama is slowly teeing up an international assault on the Second Amendment.
"He believes if he could get a second term, that's that when the floodgates would open," Bolton told the NRA's in-house news network this year. "Then he has the agenda items like international gun control that he's pushed very quietly."
What does "pushing very quietly" mean? The United States is participating in small arms talks, but it's starting with a defense of sovereignty. In his official statement to the conference, the administration's negotiator, Donald Mahley, warned that "any attempt to include provisions in the treaty that would interfere with each state's sovereign control over the domestic possession, use, or movement of arms is clearly outside the scope of our mandate." He could have been reading from an NRA pamphlet.
But Bolton hears that and suspects chicanery. The NRA's stated position from LaPierre's book on down, is that the various dictatorships that make up the U.N. are trying to run Americans' lives. Like the Cylons, they have a plan. "Do they really want to wrap it up now," asked Bolton of the Arms Trade Treaty negotiators, "and package their gains and hope they can get it through? Or do they think maybe that'd be better off waiting until November and seeing what happens in our election?"
And that's the punchline. The NRA's previous efforts helped put 57 senators on record against any "overly broad" treaty that created "any sort of international gun registry." And Democrats announced that statement of principles -- making sure to quote the NRA, which approved of the threat. Thanks to the NRA, America's own gun politics and treaty opposition are already locked in, regardless of what the Arms Trade Treaty actually says.