The global gun epidemic is killing 1000 people every day, according to a report released recently by the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA). With 640 million guns already in the world and eight million new ones produced each year, there are enough weapons to equip one in every ten people on the planet. Of these, the majority are in the hands of civilians (59 per cent), outnumbering those held by the armed forces and governments (38 per cent). 10-14 billion rounds of ammunition are produced annually, sufficient to shoot every person in the world twice.
The report Bringing the Global Gun Crisis Under Control reveals that the source of the illicit market is the legal trade, often in a different country from the one where the weapons are used in violence. The vast majority of small arms and light weapons – ranging from revolvers and machine guns to anti-aircraft missiles and rocket propelled grenade launchers – are manufactured, traded and initially owned legally; many later fall into illegal ownership. Unlike heavy weaponry such as tanks, small arms are easy to use, transport and carry across borders and are hard for governments to monitor.
It is clear that this problem must be regulated in a manner that is comprehensive, coordinated and global. Despite this, there are:
no global standards for governments deciding whether to authorise an arms export or transfer
no international guidelines to assist States in regulating gun ownership among their own citizens
no global treaties to control the activities of arms brokers
no legal requirement for governments to maintain records linking guns to their location (whether military stockpile, police depot or civilian home).
The international community has systematically failed to address this crisis. The UN held their first major meeting on the issue just five years ago, and are meeting again in June in New York for the UN Small Arms Review Conference and to review the 2001 UN Programme of Action. Whilst urgent action is clearly needed, there are fears that the meeting will simply re-run its previous, five year old discussions and miss the opportunity to move forward.
From 22-29 May, activists in more than 50 countries joined this year's Global Week of Action Against Small Arms, campaigning for international action to prevent armed violence.
Oxfam's Million Faces Petition, which gathered over 900,000 signatories, was presented to key decision makers in many countries around the world by Control Arms activists.
IRIN has produced an In-Depth page giving an overview of critical small arms and light weapons issues. It also includes 13 frontline reports from IRIN journalists, interviews with experts in the field and those who have directly experienced the human impact of small arms, and links to further information. Se section on Small arms, Gender and Age.
Oxfam has created a virtual football game and invites players to score one for Control Arms.
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Posted on 2006-06-28