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Armed violence prevention, gun control laws and the small arms trade:

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Armed Violence and Guns in South East Asia

Among the eleven crowded states of South East Asia, firearm control ranges from total (Brunei, Cambodia, Vietnam), to restrictive (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Timor-Leste), to highly permissive (Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand). In Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, gun crime can attract the death penalty.

Estimated rates of civilian gun possession range from 0.3 per 100,000 people in Timor-Leste, to 0.5 in Indonesia and Singapore, with a high of 16.1 in Thailand. As many as four million unregistered, or ‘loose’ firearms are said to be in private hands across Myanmar, Indonesia and the Philippines. Estimates also place 190,000 state-owned firearms in Cambodia, 800,000 in Malaysia, close to a million in Myanmar, 2.2 million in Indonesia, and approximately 9.8 million in Vietnam – the world’s fourth largest military stockpile, largely a remnant of war. Myanmar is notable for its large arms imports.

Public health reporting of gun death data is uncommon across South East Asia, and very rare in Laos, Myanmar, Timor-Leste and Vietnam. Firearm homicide has risen in the Philippines, but fallen in Singapore. Thailand reports the highest gun homicide rate in all of Asia.

Small arms are lawfully manufactured in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. Illicit craft production is also common across the sub-region, notably in the Philippines.

South East Asia is a crossroads for arms smuggling and trafficking. Singapore plays down the problem, while Thailand is seen as the region’s principal arms black market, followed by Cambodia and Vietnam.

Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines take an active role in international initiatives to curb the proliferation of small arms. Brunei, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore and Timor-Leste do not.

For more information on armed violence and gun control law in each country of South East Asia, and for references to support the assertions made in the summary above, use the search tools in the left hand column.