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Armed Violence and Guns in Asia

While the firearm-related policies of South Korea, Brunei and China are some of the world’s most restrictive, those of fellow Asian nations Pakistan, Yemen and Timor-Leste are among its most permissive. Asia’s five regions also illustrate the widest range of small arms proliferation, use and misuse:

West Asia, home to conflicts of the Middle East, boasts three of the world’s highest national rates of civilian firearm possession: Yemen (2nd), Saudi Arabia (7th), and Iraq (8th).1

Central Asia in contrast, and despite its history as a satellite region of the former Soviet Union, reports some of the lowest rates of private gun ownership in the world.1

South Asia, recipient of the world’s largest recent inflow of small arms, is home to two of its largest arsenals. With as many as three million and two million military small arms apiece,2 India and Pakistan also rank 2nd and 6th3 in the world for the number of firearms held by civilians, respectively 40 million4 and 18 million.1

South East Asia’s legacy of leftover war weapons, its porous borders and weak controls are attractive to gun-runners.5 6 7 8 Indonesia and the Philippines report more than a million civilian small arms apiece, while Myanmar civilians are said to possess two million.1

East Asia, despite its universally restrictive domestic gun policies, hosts some of the world’s largest firearm exporters and emerging industry giants: China, South Korea and Japan.9 10 11 In 2006, China achieved the world’s steepest value increase in military small arms exports.12

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

Short References

1.

Karp, Aaron.2007.‘Completing the Count: Civilian firearms - Annexe online.’ Small Arms Survey 2007: Guns and the City.Cambridge:Cambridge University Press,27 August. (Q5)Full Citation

2.

Karp, Aaron.2013.‘Table 4: Twenty Largest Military Small Arms Inventories.’ Armed Actors - Data Sources and the Estimation of Military-Owned Small Arms.Geneva:Small Arms Survey, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies,1 September. (Q8186)Full Citation

3.

Karp, Aaron.2007.‘Completing the Count: Civilian firearms.’ Small Arms Survey 2007: Guns and the City.Cambridge:Cambridge University Press,27 August. (Q4)Full Citation

4.

Kohli, Anil, Aaron Karp and Sonal Marwah.2011.‘The Geography of Indian Firearm Fatalities.’ Mapping Murder: The Geography of Indian Firearm Fatalities.New Delhi:India Armed Violence Assessment / IAVA and the Small Arms Survey (Geneva),20 September. (Q5825)Full Citation

5.

Bedeski, Robert, Andrew Andersen and Santo Darmosumarto.1998.‘Major Recipients of Small Arms in the Area.’ Small Arms Trade and Proliferation in Southeast Asia.Vancouver:Institute of International Relations, University of British Columbia,1 September. (Q832)Full Citation

6.

Cukier, Wendy and Victor W Sidel.2006.‘The Global Gun Epidemic: From Saturday Night Specials to AK-47s: Globalisation and gun running: Regional Perspectives: South East Asia.’ The Global Gun Epidemic: From Saturday Night Specials to AK-47s.Westport, CT:Praeger Security International,1 January. (Q1557)Full Citation

7.

Capie, David.2002.‘Introduction.’ Small Arms Production and Transfers in South East Asia.Canberra:Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University,1 January. (Q1558)Full Citation

8.

Philippines.2008.‘Challenges and Obstacles Met in the Implementation of the PoA.’ National Report of the Philippines on its Implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (UNPoA).New York:Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations,31 March. (Q1108)Full Citation

9.

Pavesi, Irene and Christelle Rigual.2013.‘Annexes 8.1: Major Exporters.’ Small Arms Survey 2013: Everyday Dangers.Cambridge:Cambridge University Press and the Small Arms Survey, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies,2 July. (Q8485)Full Citation

10.

Small Arms Survey.2001.‘60 Known Legal Small Arms Exporting Countries, 2001 (Mid-level Exporters).’ Small Arms Survey 2001: Profiling the Problem.Oxford:Oxford University Press,1 July. (Q868)Full Citation

11.

Amnesty International.2006.‘The Flow of Arms Accelerates – Introduction.’ People's Republic of China: Sustaining Conflict and Human Rights Abuses.London:Amnesty International,12 June. (Q1560)Full Citation

12.

Dreyfus, Pablo, Nicolas Marsh and Matt Schroeder.2009.‘Ten Largest Absolute Increases in Exports of Military Small Arms and Light Weapons, 2000-06.’ Small Arms Survey 2009: Shadows of War.Geneva:Cambridge University Press,9 July. (Q1512)Full Citation