What is the problem?

Small Arms Matter

What is the problem?

It is estimated that at least 639 million small arms and light weapons (SALW) are circulating worldwide today. Each year more than 8 million small arms and light weapons are produced, together with more than 16 billion rounds of ammunition.

The Small Arms Survey estimates that 70 per cent of global SALW stockpiles are in civilian hands. Particularly in developing and transitional societies, the wide availability and use of small arms is associated with enormous suffering and insecurity as some 300,000 people are killed and millions more are affected by small arms each year.

Available data shows that the highest levels of firearms mortality can be found in Latin America and the Caribbean (15.5 deaths per 100,000), followed by Africa (5.9) and North America (3.5).

Aside from the staggeringly high levels of death and injury due to SALW availability, armed violence implies enormous costs to all levels of society, human as well as economic. The security, justice and health sectors are particularly exposed to budget deficits, and armed violence hinders productivity rates thereby negatively affecting economic development and performance.

Lack of capacity or resources on behalf of the state to offer citizen security adversely affects social cohesion, resulting in the eroding credibility of public institutions and, in turn, dire prospects for human development and democracy in the world.

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