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Karp, Aaron. 2012 ‘Country Analyses: Argentina.’ Measurement and Use of Statistical Data to Analyze Small Arms in the Caribbean and Latin America; Section IV, pp. 15-16. Mexico City: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Center of Excellence, National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI). 28 April

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Argentine gun culture has evolved greatly in recent years. Civilian attitudes are liable to dramatic swings, from an emphasis on guns for personal security to an awareness of social problems associated with excess availability. In the early 2002, during the economic contraction of the era, gun ownership was seen positively and civilian ownership appears to have expanded dramatically, with stores reporting a fifty percent increase in sales.(12)

In the mid-2000s concern with the dangers of small arms proliferation became more important. An initial reform appears to have been a cleaning of older registration records, which appear to have been balloted with redundant or otherwise mistake entries. Although entirely surmised here, this would explain the otherwise extraordinary and inexplicable reduction in civilian gun registrations between 2001 and 2006, shown in the table below. [Table: "Argentine civilian firearms registration reports" at p. 18 in the original]

A second reform was a series of regional and national disarmament initiatives started under the reform law of 2006. These led to the buy-back and destruction of more than 128,000 firearms through 2011. Weapons came in fastest in the first year of the program, when 104,782 came in.(13) Another report says the initial total was 107,761.(14) Participation has been slower since then. Even so, advocates go so far as to claim "Since the establishment of its policy on the destruction of firearms in 2006, the Government had destroyed 128,734 small arms, which represented 10 per cent of civilian-owned weapons."(15) While the destruction record is significant, the portion of total national guns destroyed is much less than ten percent, since civilian gun ownership includes both registered and unregistered firearms, the latter usually uncounted.

Evidence suggests the latter predominate in Argentina as in most other places. The number of registered firearms declined from 2006 to 2008, but increased since, possibly as unregistered guns were integrated into the legal system, possibly because new sales continued pretty well regardless. As shown in the table below, the decrease in public ownership due to the disarmament program has been eliminated by subsequent registrations, which now surpass the levels of 2008, although reports differ about how much, ranging from a 10 to 12 percent increase during the next two years. Disarmament probably did more to slow the pace of inventory growth…

Argentina stands out for its extraordinary military surplus, which appears to include about 300,000 unneeded weapons. The surplus is the result of dramatic reductions of its armed forces, following the collapse of the military's political role and social prestige in the 1980s and the end of conscription. Most impressive, it eliminated its reserve force of 377,000. Other countries shrank their armed forces but kept or inflated the reserves, which has the effect of justifying maintenance of surplus stockpiles. In lieu of such justifications, Argentina's military surplus is an outstanding candidate for disposal.


12) Colin Barraclough, "In Argentina, fear feeds gun sales," The Christian Science Monitor, 22 April 2002.

13) Gabriel Conte, "Argentines delivered more than a hundred thousand weapons during the disarmament campaign", Comunidad Segura, March 2009.

14) "Se lanzó la segunda etapa del canje voluntario de armas", Rafaela, 10 August 2011.

15) Mateo Estreme, "Preparatory Committee for Review Conference" General Assembly, DC/3328, United Nations, 21 March 2012.

ID: Q9856

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