Small Arms Trade

June 19, 2012 • Volume 6, Issue 12
Does the proliferation of small arms promote violence?
By John Felton

Introduction

Armed with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, a Libyan rebel fights loyalists of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Armed with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, a Libyan rebel fights loyalists of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi during the civil war that began during the 2011 Arab Spring and ended with the death of the longtime dictator. Since the war ended in October, some Libyan small arms have ended up in Algeria, Egypt, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Somalia. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

From brutal civil wars in Africa to vicious drug-cartel rivalries in Mexico, violence around the world has one thing in common: vast quantities of hand-held weapons such as Kalashnikov assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. Nearly a billion small arms are scattered across the globe, about three-quarters of them in civilian hands. Many have been recycled from recent conflicts, such as last year's Libyan civil war; some have come from former Soviet Union stockpiles. While most are used for hunting, sport shooting and personal protection, millions end up in the hands of rebel groups, gangs and criminals. Some experts argue that the growing proliferation of small weapons can exacerbate a potentially violent situation, but others insist the mere presence of weapons does not necessarily promote violence. This summer the U.N. will try to negotiate a treaty governing the global trade in all weapons. Some negotiators want small arms included, but gun-rights groups oppose overly restrictive regulations on the small arms trade.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Arms Sales and Trafficking
Jun. 19, 2012  Small Arms Trade
Dec. 09, 1994  Arms Sales
Apr. 17, 1987  Third World Arms Industries
May 04, 1979  America's Arms Sales
May 07, 1976  World Arms Sales
Sep. 02, 1970  International Arms Sales
Apr. 28, 1965  Traffic in Arms
Sep. 09, 1936  Government Manufacture of Munitions
May 11, 1933  Arms Embargoes and the Traffic in Munitions
Apr. 27, 1925  Conference for Control of the International Traffic in Arms
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Arms Control and Disarmament