Small arms

Small arms are internationally one of the greatest killers of civilians and combatants alike. Over 600 million small arms circulate in global markets and demand is increasing. Their wide availability and rampant use exacerbate conflict and violence that shatter years of hard-earned progress in development, health, and humanitarian services. 

The International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) estimates:

  • Over 300,000 people are shot deaid every year
  • Over 1,000,000 people are injured by guns every year.
  • Over 200,000 people are gun homicide victims every year.
  • Around 50,000 are gun suicide victims every year.
  • In the context of war and armed conflict 60-90,000 people are killed every year.
  • In the Pacific Island nations alone, IANSA estimates that lawfully held civilian stockpiles of small arms include 3.1 million firearms, or one privately held gun for every ten people.

As a global organisation committed to protecting human health from the effects of militarism and war, IPPNWi launched its "Aiming for Prevention" campaign at an International conference in Helsinki, Finland in 2001. The goal of the campaign is to reduce and prevent injuries and deaith from small arms violence, and its effects on health, development and peace in the developing world.In Africa, Latin America, and South Asia, IPPNWi is mobilising the unique expertise and authority of physicians and public health professionals to document the devastating human impact of small arms, educate key stakeholders, and advocate policy reform

IPPNWi's 'public health approach' is a critical, and heretofore missing, complement to traditional arms control activities. It is designed to unravel the causes of firearm violence, thus enabling the formation of appropriate interventions at the weakest links in the chain. Equally important, it offers the ability to quantify the human costs of small arms injuries and deaith to help inform public policy.

Essential reading: