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Global Impact of Gun Violence


“The death toll from small arms dwarfs that of all other weapons systems — and in most years greatly exceeds the toll of the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In terms of the carnage they cause, small arms, indeed, could well be described as ‘weapons of mass destruction’.” — Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, March 20001


Small arms, commonly known as firearms or guns,2 are used to kill as many as 1,000 people each day.3 4 Millions more are wounded, or their lives upended when access to development aid, markets, health, education and human rights is disrupted by people with guns.5

There are more than 875 million firearms in the world, 75 per cent of them in the hands of civilians.6 Guns outnumber passenger vehicles by 253 million, or 29 per cent.7 Each year about eight million new small arms, plus 10 to 15 billion rounds of ammunition are manufactured — enough bullets to shoot every person in the world not once, but twice.8 9 10 The authorised international trade in small arms and ammunition exceeds US$7.1 billion each year.11

GunPolicy.org publishes evidence from hundreds of jurisdictions, allowing country-by-country comparisons of armed violence and firearm regulation around the world. These pages confirm that many, and probably most small arms are not misused, and that legitimate reasons exist for gun ownership. They also document the injury, death and suffering of gun violence, and show how all states monitor and control firearms to protect the citizen's right to safety, public health and human security.

For more information on armed violence and gun control in each country and territory, please use the search tools in the left hand column.

Short References

1.

Annan, Kofi.2000.‘Freedom from Fear: Small Arms.’ Report of the Secretary-General to the Millenium Assembly of the United Nations.New York NY:United Nations General Assembly,27 March. (Q181)Full Citation

2.

UNGA.1997.‘Report of the Panel of Governmental Experts on Small Arms.’ General and Complete Disarmament: Small Arms.New York:United Nations General Assembly,27 August. (Q174)Full Citation

3.

Geneva Declaration.2008.‘Dimensions of Armed Violence.’ Global Burden of Armed Violence.Geneva:Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development Secretariat,12 September. (Q178)Full Citation

4.

IANSA.2006.‘A Thousand People Die Every Day.’ 2006: Bringing the Global Gun Crisis Under Control.London:International Action Network on Small Arms,26 July. (Q175)Full Citation

5.

Control Arms.2009.‘Decision Time for an Urgent, Effective Arms Trade Treaty.’ Dying for Action: Oxfam Briefing Note.Oxford:Control Arms Campaign: Oxfam International, Amnesty International and the International Action Network on Small Arms / IANSA,7 October. (Q1140)Full Citation

6.

Karp, Aaron.2007.‘Completing the Count: Civilian firearms.’ Small Arms Survey 2007: Guns and the City.Cambridge:Cambridge University Press,27 August. (Q177)Full Citation

7.

Renner, Michael.2008.‘Vehicle Production Rises, But Few Cars Are 'Green'.’ Vital Signs Online: Transportation and Communication.Washington DC:Worldwatch Institute,21 May. (Q1139)Full Citation

8.

Batchelor, Peter.2001.‘Small Arms, Big Business: Products and Producers.’ Small Arms Survey 2001: Profiling the Problem.Oxford:Oxford University Press,1 July. (Q180)Full Citation

9.

Batchelor, Peter.2003.‘Workshops and Factories: Products and Producers.’ Small Arms Survey 2003: Development Denied.Oxford:Oxford University Press,1 July. (Q179)Full Citation

10.

David A Fahrenthold and Fredrick Kunkle. 2009. ‘Bullets are Speeding Faster Out of Gun Shops in U.S..’ Washington Post. 3 November. (N163) Full Citation

11.

Herron, Patrick, Jasna Lazarevic, Nic Marsh and Matt Schroeder.2011.‘Larger but Less Known: Authorized Light Weapons Transfers.’ Small Arms Survey 2011: States of Security.Cambridge:Cambridge University Press and the Small Arms Survey, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies,6 July. (Q5981)Full Citation