Demand for handguns fuelling small arms trade, UN data shows

9 July 2009
Small arms at a disarmament collection point in Akobo, Sudan

The demand for handguns is fuelling the global trade in small arms and light weapons which is estimated to have risen by 28 per cent between 2000 and 2006, says a new report based on trade and arms data compiled by the United Nations.

“Current data shows that the global trade in small arms and light weapons is robust and even expanding, and that handguns are driving it,” said Keith Krause, Programme Director for the Small Arms Survey.

“We don’t know whether these weapons are destined for civilians, police, or military forces. But it is striking that handguns have outpaced all other small arms and light weapons over the period,” he added.

The 2009 edition of the Survey, published by the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, notes in particular that the demand for guns in the United States remains the key driver of trade in small arms.

“The United States continues to drive the global small arms trade, remaining the largest importer of pistols and revolvers, sporting shotguns, and small-calibre ammunition. Greater demand for small arms in the United States was responsible for 48 per cent of the worldwide increase in imports from 2000 to 2006,” states a press release issued in Geneva.

The report also notes that the value of the global trade in small arms and light weapons during that period is estimated to have reached $2.9 billion.

In addition, the top exporters of small arms include the US, Italy, Germany and Brazil, with the US also leading the list of importers, followed by Saudi Arabia, Cyprus and Germany, according to the report which is based on information from 53 countries.

The report also draws on information from UN Comtrade, a database maintained by the UN Statistics Division containing more than 1 billion trade records starting from 1962.

The UN Register of Conventional Arms also serves as a source for the Survey. Created in 1991, the Register contains information provided by over 170 States on arms transfers as well as on military holdings, procurement through national production and relevant policies.


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