Small arms proliferation

Small arms proliferation

Small arms proliferation is a term used by organizations and individuals advocating the control of small arms and their trade; the term has no precise definition. Users of the term have notably included Kofi Annan, ex-Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Some organizations use the term particularly in arguing for weapons restriction of small arms sales to private citizens in conflict zones. [ Civil society and local government agencies to take effective action to improve safety at community level, by reducing the local availability and demand for arms.] These organizations argue that restricting the number of small arms in a conflict zone will reduce the number of deaths.

The international movement to limit the availability of small arms in conflict zones

Various international organizations (including Oxfam International, IANSA and Amnesty International, as part of the Control Arms Campaign, and the United Nations) and domestic groups (eg the Small Arms Working Group in the US) have committed themselves to limiting the trade in, and proliferation of, small arms around the world. They claim that roughly 500,000 people are killed each year by the use of small arms and that there are over 600 million such arms in the world." [ Amnesty International, Oxfam, IANSA Control Arms Campaign: Media Briefing: key facts and figures] ", Amnesty International, 9 October 2003. Retrieved 30 August 2006.]

Main small arms exporters

The Small Arms Survey, an organization advocating the control of small arms (see external links) claims in their 2003 report that at least 1,134 companies in 98 countries worldwide are involved in some aspect of the production of small arms and/or ammunition. The largest exporters of small arms by volume are the European Union and the United States.

In addition, massive exports of small arms by the US, the former Soviet Union (AKM), China (Type 56), Germany (H&K G3), Belgium (FN-FAL), and Brazil (FN-FAL) during the Cold War took place to support ideological movements. These small arms have survived many conflicts and many are now in the hands of arms dealers who move them between conflict areas as needed.

Data issues

Perhaps the greatest barrier to resolving debates over gun policy is the lack of comprehensive data. Although the UN Arms Register tries to keep track of major weapons holdings, there is no global reporting system for small arms. Some countries make information available about the small arms of their armed forces and law enforcement agencies; others release estimated data on public ownership. Most refuse to release anything or simply do not know.

The most systematic effort to track global small arms is published by the Geneva-based "Small Arms Survey", a research project of the Graduate Institute of International Studies (see external links). This organization’s flagship publication, the annual Small Arms Survey, covers trends in global production, inventories, and international transfers, as well as international negotiations, regulations, and the social problems associated with small arms proliferation.

Research featured in past editions of the "Small Arms Survey" reveals that there are at least 639 million firearms in the world, although the actual total is almost certainly considerably higher.Fact|date=February 2007 This number increases by approximately 8 million every year, for a total economic impact of about US $7 billion annually.Fact|date=February 2007

The "Small Arms Survey" figures are estimates, based on available national figures and field research in particular countries. They give a general sense of trends and the scale of the number of small arms.

Gun rights issues

Gun rights organizations like the National Rifle Association and the Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership argue that each person has a right to self-defense, and that the most effective way of doing so is by keeping and bearing arms. They point out that the warlords in conflict areas will always have access to weapons, and disarmament efforts only serve to disarm the population, creating more defenseless victims.Fact|date=February 2007

On the other hand, gun control organizations like the Small Arms Working Group argue that the prevalence of small arms contributes to the cycle of violence between governments and individuals, and that small arms like those they seek to limit are of no use other than to kill other humans, which should be obvious as only humans repress other humans.Fact|date=February 2007 Some of these organizations argue that civilians should only own weapons for sporting or hunting purposes, if they decide to at all(ANC alley COSATU, SOUTH AFRICA, ARTICLE 77).Fact|date=February 2007 These organizations do however support the right of governments to keep arms.


*"Small arms proliferation is not merely a security issue; it is also an issue of human rights and of development." Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, page 52 in "We the Peoples:The Role of the United Nations in the 21st Century" ("Millennium Report"), 2000

ee also

* UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms
* Gun politics


Further reading

* Lora Lumpe (ed), "Running Guns: The Global Black Market in Small Arms", Zed Books 2000

External links

*Organisations advocating small arms control
** [ Control Arms - Amnesty International, International Action Network on Small Arms and Oxfam]
** [ Norwegian Institute on Small Arms Transfers]
** [ The Small Arms Survey (Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva)]
** [ Arms Sales Monitoring Program - Federation of American Scientists]
** [ Small Arms Working Group]
** [ List of Arms Trade related organizations]

*Organisations advocating to exclude sporting and hunting small arms from trade control
** [ National Rifle Association (NRA)]
** [ Keep and Bear Arms (KBA)]
** [ Our Nation (Our Nation USA)]
** [ Swiss gun owners association (ProTell)]
** [ Council of Licensed Firearms Owners (COLFO)]
** [ Jews for the Preservation of Gun Ownership]

* Summary on the US position on civilian small arms
** [ reporting and opinion on US Government position from the National Review, a US conservative journal]

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