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Armed Violence and Guns in South Asia

South Asia has been fraught by militarisation, state conflict and the subsequent flow of firearms, both licit and illicit. India and Pakistan rank 2nd and 6th1 in the world for the number of firearms held by civilians, respectively 40,000,0002 and 18,000,000.3

Estimated civilian gun possession rates range from 0.5 per 100 people in Bangladesh, to 3.5 in Bhutan, and to 11.6 per 100 people in Pakistan.3

In 2013, India and Pakistan ranked amongst the twenty most armed militaries in the world with an estimated 2,600,000 and 2,000,000 military firearms respectively.4

India is believed to have the largest number of law enforcement firearms in the region, with police holdings estimated at 1,700,000.5

Public health reporting across the region is rare at best. Of those countries that have reported gun homicide statistics, Sri Lanka has had the highest rates, although these have fallen since the mid 1990s.6 7 Since 2000, the Maldives have reported the highest rate: 1.6 per 100,000 population in 2008.8 India and Nepal have both reported low gun homicide rates in 2005-06,9 and India's rates have been decreasing steadily.10

Trade data, like public health data, often goes unreported in South Asia. Yet trade data suggests that Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India are medium to large importers of small arms.11 The industrial powers of the region are of course India and Pakistan.12 13 11

Bangladesh is ranked 7th of the world’s greatest value increase of military small arms exports from 2000 to 2006. 14

In terms of international participation, South Asia is a relatively inactive region, and those that are active tend to be sceptical of the international process. A little more than half of the countries in South Asia have submitted reports on the UNPoA.15 16 17 18 In the 2009 vote to begin negotiations on an Arms Trade Treaty, all countries in the region favoured the beginning of negotiations, with the exception of India and Pakistan (the two most active participants) who abstained from voting.19 Bangladesh is the only country in the region to have signed, but not yet ratified, the Treaty.20

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

Short References

1.

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

2.

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

3.

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

4.

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

5.

Karp, Aaron and Rajesh Rajagopalan.2014.‘Inventory Estimate.’ India Armed Violence Assessment - Small Arms of the Indian State: A Century of Procurement and Production.Geneva:India Armed Violence Assessment (IAVA) and the Small Arms Survey,1 January. (Q8444)Full Citation

6.

UNODC.2001.‘Sri Lanka: Total Recorded Intentional Homicides (Completed) and Total Recorded Intentional Homicides Committed With a Firearm.’ Sixth United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems, covering the period 1995-1997.Vienna:United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,27 June. (Q1347)Full Citation

7.

UNODC.2006.‘Reported Overall Homicide Numbers and Rates per 100,000 Population for 64 Countries, 2003-04.’ Ninth United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems (2003 – 2004).Vienna:United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,10 December. (Q9)Full Citation

8.

UNODC.2013.‘Homicide in 207 Countries - Maldives.’ Global Study on Homicide 2011: Trends, Context, Data.Vienna:United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,26 June. (Q6301)Full Citation

9.

UNODC.2008.‘Recorded Intentional Homicide, Completed.’ Tenth United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems (2005-2006).Vienna:United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,10 December. (Q10)Full Citation

10.

UNODC.2013.‘Homicide in 207 Countries - India.’ Global Study on Homicide 2011: Trends, Context, Data.Vienna:United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,26 June. (Q6303)Full Citation

11.

Marsh, Nicholas.2013.‘Database of Authorised Transfers of Small Arms and Light Weapons.’ NISAT Small Arms Trade Database.Oslo:Norwegian Initiative on Small Arms Transfers,14 February. (Q16)Full Citation

12.

Small Arms Survey.2001.‘Ranking of World's Small Arms Producers (By Sales).’ Small Arms Survey 2001: Profiling the Problem.Oxford:Oxford University Press,1 July. (Q103)Full Citation

13.

Small Arms Survey.2001.‘60 Known Legal Small Arms Exporting Countries, 2001.’ Small Arms Survey 2001: Profiling the Problem.Oxford:Oxford University Press,1 July. (Q867)Full Citation

14.

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

15.

Parker, Sarah and Katherine Green.2012.‘Findings - Table 3: Reporting States by Rank and Score.’ The Programme of Action Implementation Monitor (Phase 1): Assessing Reported Progress.Geneva:Small Arms Survey, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies,1 August. (Q8752)Full Citation

16.

Parker, Sarah and Katherine Green.2012.‘What do the PoAIM Scores Represent? How Should the PoAIM Scores Be Interpreted?.’ The Programme of Action Implementation Monitor (Phase 1): Assessing Reported Progress.Geneva:Small Arms Survey, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies,1 August. (Q8753)Full Citation

17.

Parker, Sarah and Katherine Green.2012.‘Point Allocation System.’ The Programme of Action Implementation Monitor (Phase 1): Assessing Reported Progress.Geneva:Small Arms Survey, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies,1 August. (Q8754)Full Citation

18.

Parker, Sarah and Katherine Green.2012.‘Introduction.’ The Programme of Action Implementation Monitor (Phase 1): Assessing Reported Progress.Geneva:Small Arms Survey, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies,1 August. (Q8755)Full Citation

19.

UNGA.2009.‘Towards an Arms Trade Treaty: Establishing common international standards for the import, export and transfer of conventional arms.’ UN Resolution A/RES/64/48.New York:United Nations General Assembly,2 June. (Q1886)Full Citation

20.

UNODA.2013.‘Towards Entry Into Force.’ Arms Trade Treaty.New York NY:United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs,2 April. (Q7226)Full Citation