Small arms kill more people every year than conventional weapons. That is guns kill more people than tanks, warships, artillery etc. combined. Hundreds of thousands of people are killed each year by small arms, including “an additional 200, 000 people in ‘peaceful’ nations each year in homicides, suicides, unintentional shootings and shootings by police. In countries like Brazil, USA and South Africa, guns are a leading cause of death among young men.”
(source: international action network on small arms)
In recent news, the inspiration for the film “Lord of War” was captured in Thailand.
Viktor Bout has been labeled the “Merchant of Death”. Though this is great in terms of those wishing to control small arms, it is but one little step in what has been a long uphill battle.
As if he was quoting from the above mentioned relevant film, the arrestee’s acquaintance described the government’s portrayal of him. “the way they portray the man, it has nothing to do with reality. Out of a fish, they make a blue whale.”
Strangely, in defending his friend, he accurately describes the challenge facing small arms control; Viktor bout is but a small fish in the ocean of arms dealing.
Perhaps one of the most poignant moments of Lord of War is at the very end when text explains the following:
“While Private Gunrunners Continue to Thrive, the World’s Biggest Arms Suppliers are he US, UK, Russia, France and China. They are also the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.”
Unfortunately, the truth is that Mr. Bout’s arrest is unlikely to stop the genocide in Sudan, create peace in the Middle East, or lower the homicide rates of Baltimore.
The combined defense budgets of the world exceed 1, 500 billion dollars. When the above quote is expanded to include other top arms exporters, Canada, Germany and Italy, one can only note that this comprises the top 8 largest economies of the world. With so much at stake financially and geo-politically, it is no wonder that they are considered the greatest arms dealers. When these countries and international organizations and laws struggle to plug legal loopholes or act to achieve peace in the regions of the world the outlook is grim.
When some of these countries fail to deal with their own problems let alone with those abroad, things seem impossible.
The state of Texas has north of 60 million firearms. This is 1/10th of the World’s total. The American south is home to 36% of America’s population, yet 43% of homicides, 44% of aggravated assaults and 42% of violent crime and five of the top 10 most dangerous American cities as ranked by the FBI appear here. (source: Enter the Babylon System: Unpacking Gun Culture From Samuel Colt to 50 Cent) Yet somehow we are told “Guns protect, open access is safer”. However one can only think of cause and effect; stemming the flow of the former to reduce the latter. Maybe Biggie Smalls isn’t right: the Sh*ts can end.