Small Arms – Big Effects Part I

By | October 20, 2021

More than 200,000 people are killed every quarter year with small arms and light weapons (hereinafter: handguns). One reckons that there are approx. 875 million small arms worldwide – 650 million of them are in civilian hands. Control and regulation exist in the arms trade, but contain many weaknesses and loopholes.

  • What does one mean by handguns?
  • Which mortal is a handgun?
  • Who killed them?
  • Kordan is the international community trying to tackle the problem of small arms?

2: Weapons, violence and effects

About 200,000 people are killed every quarter year with small arms , approx. 42 percent of all homicides. 4 out of 5 victims are men; also 4 out of 5 of the killers are men. Most of the victims and perpetrators are between 15 and 30 years old. In North and South America, about 70 percent of all killings are carried out with firearms. In East Asia, with a much lower homicide rate, the proportion killed with firearms is less than 10 percent. In Brazil and Mexico, the number of violent deaths exceeds many a war (in 2011 the total death toll was 42,785 and 27,199).

It is more difficult to quantify how many people are killed in war. The number of deaths varies from one war to another. But it is safe to assume that in a “normal year”, tens of thousands of people become direct victims of the use of small arms. A report (2011) operated with – after all killing sprees and methods – 55,000 directly killed in conflict and 471,000 murders. A total of 526,000 people were killed .

Weapons traumas intensify hostilities in wars and can also prolong them. The connection between killing and access to weapons is more complex . An example: Norway is one of the most weapon-tight countries in the world – relatively many in this country own a firearm (mainly for use in hunting), but at the same time we also have low homicide rates . Easy access to handguns seems to be the cause of more violence when weapons are combined with high numbers of other crimes committed by gangs or other organized groups (such as drug trafficking groups) and ineffective police. Weapons are travel cabinets, and do not create violence by themselves. But they dramatically increase mortality in violent situations .

In addition to those killed, we find a wide range of other effects. Injuries after the use of such weapons are usually serious, often with prolonged disability (especially back problems). In all countries, women and children are both snooped and shot by male persons with whom they have close relationships .

Some wars are characterized by mass rape, often on the battlefield and with weapons in hand . Sexualized violence has then become a tool in war. Particularly in developing countries, an injury can have dramatic economic consequences – long-term hospital treatment is particularly expensive. Prolonged injuries also left some unable to make money. Lack of security due to the danger of violence prevents people from going to markets, to school or to the doctor. In many ways it can be said that man then gets his life greatly reduced . In the work of achieving the Millennium Development Goals at the UN, the use of force has seemed inhibiting .

3: Spreading weapons

The total value of the legal trade in small arms and associated parts and ammunition is estimated at approx. $ 8.5 billion (about $ 50 billion). In addition, all the handguns that are sold illegally are on the black market. The five countries that produce and export the most small arms are the United States, Germany, Italy, Austria and Brazil . They accounted for about half of all known exports in the world. China is probably among the big five, but data is difficult to obtain. The most important importing countries are also rich industrial countries. In this way, the production of small arms is similar to other finished goods such as cars. The central areas for production, export and import are Europe, North America, China and Japan (Japan: mostly rifles for use in hunting).

In civil wars in Africa, according to allcitycodes, weapons that were produced during the Cold War in Central and Eastern Europe are most often used. Many of these weapons were given away in the 1970s and 1980s as part of the global struggle between the superpowers the United States and the Soviet Union. In the 1990s and 2000s, significant quantities came to Africa from China – directly or indirectly – and from post-Cold War surplus stocks exported there from former members of the Warsaw Pact.

In civil wars, the demand for weapons – from insurgents and other non-governmental groups – increases sharply. Weapons circulate and change owners to meet this demand. The most common source of weapons for insurgents is to steal or conquer from government forces they are fighting against. Cross-border, illegal arms trade is another important source. States are often involved – as direct donors of weapons, financial support for arms purchases or by “turning away” when weapons pass through their countries. After the war ends, many weapons are happy to move on to the next conflict. But a whole lot remains in the conflict area and often makes the work of getting a country back on its feet more difficult (cf. often a problem to disarm and demobilize soldiers).

Outside the conflict area, there is an illegal network of arms trafficking over large parts of the world, but with varying force. One of the most powerful we can see is when people take advantage of liberal rules in the United States and buy weapons in gun shops in the southern United States and then smuggle the weapons across the border into Mexico . In Western Europe, on the other hand, the demand for illegal weapons is very low.

Arms Trade Treaty 1