Three times as many people suffer severe injuries each day as die due to gunshot wounds. It would qualify as an epidemic if the death, injury, and disability caused by small arms could be classified as a disease. Media reports and popular perceptions, however, seem to imply that gun violence is simply a consequence of injustice or cruelty, rather than a problem that can be prevented.
There is no single solution to Kleiner Waffenschein Antrag violence because its circumstances vary so greatly. Bringing down the grim toll of global death and injury requires an integrated approach, reflecting the multi-faceted nature of the problem. Even so, high school massacres in the US, gang violence in Brazil, and systematic sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo all have one thing in common – access to weapons.
According to the Geneva Small Arms Survey, there are 875 million small arms in existence worldwide. Armed forces, police, and other government agencies possess less than 25 percent of these weapons; three-quarters are held by civilians. More guns are in the world than cars. Is it possible to reduce the number of guns?
State stockpiles should be reduced. It is best to begin with government arsenals, because they are easier to identify and target than diffuse civilian holdings. Concentrating efforts on the State stockpile is the fastest way to cut down on the sheer number of guns on earth. In the Small Arms Survey, it was found that 38% of the small arms in government arsenals are surplus to requirements. Large armies may be considered necessary by governments for national defense, but their importance is overestimated. Buying, registering, recording, storing, maintaining, and guarding surplus weapons not only represents a waste of resources, but also poses a serious threat to military and civilian populations who live near accumulations of surplus weapons. Surplus stocks are a magnet for traffickers, insurgents and criminals in addition to being a physical threat.
According to the UN Small Arms Process, surplus guns and ammunition are a grave threat. In late 2007, the General Assembly established a UN Group of Governmental Experts on Surplus Ammunition, and the disposal of surplus weapons was one of the main topics at last year’s Third Biennial Meeting of States on Small Arms and Light Weapons. Governments are consistently advised to identify and destroy surplus materials.
The Control Arms campaign consists of thousands of civil society groups around the world who advocate for an ATT that is centered on protecting human rights and human security. We are working to ensure that each decision relating to an arms transfer is linked to the States’ existing international obligations. In other words, arms transfers should be stopped if a substantial risk exists that those weapons will be used to commit serious violations of international human rights or humanitarian law. Since all member states agree to support the provisions of the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Geneva Conventions, this proposal should not raise any controversy in principle. In most cases, however, these obligations were not considered relevant to decisions about arms transfers.
The phrase “human rights” was opposed by some countries because they believe it will arbitrarily block their ability to acquire weapons for legitimate military or police purposes. There is no need for fear, since the UN Charter protects such legitimate acquisitions. However, some Western countries argue that this phrase makes getting consensus more difficult. In general, it would be easier to get agreement on a weak treaty than on a strong one, since a weak treaty does not require a lot of changes in countries’ existing policies. It would still be symbolic even if the treaty is weak.
No, I’m afraid. Torture, intimidation, and mass killings are all real, not symbolic. To prevent such abuses and reduce the supply of new weapons to abusers, a strong, comprehensive treaty based explicitly on international law is necessary.