Small Arms, Crime and Conflict: Global Governance and the Threat of Armed Violence

Small Arms, Crime and Conflict: Global Governance and the Threat of Armed Violence

Small Arms, Crime and Conflict: Global Governance and the Threat of Armed Violence

Small Arms, Crime and Conflict: Global Governance and the Threat of Armed Violence


This book focuses on the use of small arms in violence and attempts by the state to govern the use and acquisition of these weapons. 

It is likely that hundreds of thousands of people are killed every year as a result of armed violence - in contexts ranging from war zones to domestic violence. This edited volume examines why these deaths occur, the role of guns and other weapons, and how governance can be used to reduce and prevent those deaths. Drawing on a variety of disciplines, ranging from anthropology through economics to peace and security studies, the book's main concern throughout is that of human security - the causes and means of prevention of armed violence.

The first part of the book concerns warfare, the second armed violence and crime, and the last governance of arms and their (mis)-use. The concluding chapter builds on the contributors' key findings and suggests priorities for future research, with the aim of forming a coherent narrative which examines what we know, why armed violence occurs, and what can be done to reduce it.

This book will be of much interest to students of small arms, security studies, global governance, peace and conflict studies, and IR.


Owen Greene and Nicholas Marsh

This book is concerned with armed violence. More particularly, it aims to present and examine recent developments in knowledge of the interrelationships between flows and availability of weapons, on the one hand, and violence, crime and conflict on the other.

One of the features of both academic and policy debates about armed violence has been that experts on ‘arms’ issues have tended to make over-simplistic assumptions about the implications of weapons flows for patterns of violence and insecurity. Similarly, specialists on different types and contexts of violence or conflict have often considered studies on arms questions to be secondary and superficial: addressing mere artefacts rather than deeper social, economic and political factors.

The authors of this book are impatient with both of these partial and inadequate approaches. We take as a starting point that the linkages between arms and violence are complex, dynamic and important. The book aims to clarify and explore such interrelationships in a range of contexts, and also to examine linkages between policies and programmes designed to address them.

We focus particularly on the category of ‘small arms and light weapons’ (SALW), such as pistols, assault rifles, machine guns, mortars and man-portable rockets and missiles. Focusing on this category of conventional weapons is particularly appropriate and important, for several reasons. They are associated with a high proportion of injury, violence and insecurity in communities across virtually every country or region of the world – not only in war zones, but also most developing and developed countries that are relatively politically stable but nevertheless include areas suffering from high levels of societal, criminal or domestic violence and insecurity. In many countries, small arms are widely held and used (or misused) by many sectors of society, including gangs, militias, officials, hunters, sports shooters, and ordinary citizens, as well as states’ police and armed forces. Violence and insecurities associated with SALW range from the individual and domestic levels through communal and intra-state, to transnational, regional and global. Suicide is also often carried out with firearms. The interrelationships between SALW availability and violent social processes are, therefore, relatively rich and important; compared, for example, to bombers or submarines.

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