Bereaved parents call on governments to get tough on arms

The grass-roots action comes as the Control Arms Campaign (Oxfam, Amnesty International and IANSA) publishes figures showing that there is now one gun for every ten people on the planet – that’s more guns than cars. On average 800,000 guns are destroyed every year, but for every one gun that is destroyed another ten new guns are created.

For the first time, international arms campaigners have joined forces with domestic gun campaigning groups – Mothers Against Guns and the Gun Control Network - to show how the unregulated international trade in arms impacts on gun crime in the UK, as well as overseas.

The groups have joined forces to call on the UK government to back an international Arms Treaty to place legal controls on the unregulated trade in arms that claim hundreds of thousands of lives each year. They are also calling for an end to loopholes in UK arms export laws that allow British guns to be sold to human rights abusers and conflict zones.

“If parents like me who have lost Children's rights to armed violence can face the gun problem head on, why can’t the government? As the second biggest arms supplier in the world Britain has a responsibility to tighten its arms laws. Every day it refuses to do so is another day British-sold arms can find their way into the hands of killers and criminals.”

Steve Walker, a retired policeman whose son was killed with an imported Uzi machine gun, said;
“An international Arms Treaty would ensure all governments have strict standards and all arms exports are properly regulated. If the British government refuse to push for tough controls, they shouldn’t be surprised when guns moving unregulated around world markets end up on British streets taking British lives. Tough arms controls would help make all of us safer.”

Figures show that:

  • There are approximately 640 million guns in circulation- one for every ten people.
  • Around eight million new guns are made every year.
  • Approximately 14 billion rounds of military ammunition are made every year – two bullets for every person.
  • Small arms are produced by 1249 companies in more than 90 countries. In some of these countries trade controls are almost non-existent.
  • For the two biggest arms producers – USA and Russia – production of military style guns is increasing.
  • Far from destroying old and surplus weapons, most states resell their surplus weaponry thus ensuring the ever-increasing proliferation of guns across the world.
  • Only three countries in the world (Nigeria, Latvia and South Africa) have a policy of destroying all surplus or confiscated weapons.
  • On average, around one million guns are lost or stolen every year.
  • Hundreds of thousands of guns are lost by state forces every year.
  • Iraq was the most extreme example, when millions of weapons were looted in 2003. At least 650,000 tons of weaponry and explosives were captured by US and Allied forces from abandoned military depots across Iraq, but this was barely guarded and much was looted.

“Gun Destruction Day is a time when ordinary people across the world take positive action to tackle the gun problem head on. But with ten new guns produced for every one destroyed, ordinary people’s efforts are being sabotaged by governments’ refusal to act.”
said Barbara Stocking, Director of Oxfam.

“Without an international Arms Treaty, local efforts to address armed violence will continue to be undermined by government inaction and guns will continue to get into the wrong hands.”
said Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK.

Survivors of gun violence, victims’ families and arms campaigners are destroying guns across the world:

  • In Brazil 6,500 illegal firearms confiscated by police will be destroyed by Viva Rio, the Brazilian Army, and the Rio state government. Oscar Niemeyer, the famous Brazilian architect, will use the destroyed guns to make a monument to peace.
  • In South Africa gun control groups will be working with the government to publicly destroy a cache of illegal arms. This will mark the coming into force of the new firearms control act - aiming to drain the pool of arms in communities.
  • In Cambodia, a flame of peace ceremony will be held at which 4,000 illegal and surplus weapons will be destroyed.
  • International gun destruction day marks the culmination of the Global Week of Action Against Small Arms, in which groups in over 40 countries across the world have taken the initiative to challenge armed violence in their communities.

    The organisations are asking people to join the Million Faces Petition, calling on governments worldwide to support and international Arms Treaty.

    More about the Control Arms Campaign and what you can do... /b>

    Notes

    Mick North and Steve Walker from the UK Gun Control Network, Lucy Cope from Mothers Against Guns and other bereaved parents will be destroying 300 symbolic guns with a ten tonne steamroller at 10:30 hrs BST Friday 9 July, Bishopgate Goods Yard, Shoreditch High Street (Corner with Bethnal Green Road), London E1.

    Gun destruction events will be happening across the UK including, Bristol, Birmingham and Leeds.

    International Gun Destruction Day was established by the UN in 2001.

    Figures above are based on the Small Arms Survey 2004.

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