UK: New survey shows over 80 per cent of Britons fear foreign guns on our streets

Over 80 per cent of people in the UK (81%) fear guns coming in from overseas and ending up on British streets, according to a new survey released today (19 June). And these fears are well-founded as one in ten people in Britain have been affected by gun crime or know someone that has been in the past five years.

The new survey by the Control Arms Campaign – Oxfam, Amnesty International and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) – also reveals:

* Almost one in six people in the UK have seen a gun that they understood to be illegal
* Nearly 40 per cent live in fear of becoming a victim of armed violence
* 60 per cent of people think it is too easy to get a gun in the UK.

The survey shows that the majority of people want tougher controls on the Arms to stop weapons getting into the wrong hands. An overwhelming 86 per cent of people want stricter international controls on weapons exports. These findings come just a week before UK government representatives head to New York for a UN conference on small arms and light weapons, where campaigners hope there will be real progress towards a treaty to control the global Arms.

"The easy availability of guns is causing death, destruction and instilling fear across the world. This threat is also strongly felt in the UK. Our research clearly shows that people want stricter arms controls to protect themselves and people in other countries. It is about time that governments took heed and agreed to regulate arms exports," says Barbara Stocking, director, Oxfam GB.

Every day 1000 people around the world are killed as a result of armed violence. Many thousands are maimed, tortured or forced to flee their homes. The abuse of arms fuels conflict, poverty and violations of human rights.

The Control Arms Campaign is calling on governments to agree to adopt tough controls on the Arms through an international Arms Treaty and to set up tough global principles to regulate the sales of weapons and stop them being sold to conflict zones, human rights abusers and criminals.

In the UK alone 150,000 people have signed up to the world's largest visual petition, the Million Faces Petition which includes people from 150 countries. The UK petition will be delivered to Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett at the Foreign Office tomorrow (Tuesday 20 June).

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

"With the world awash with guns, it's little wonder that people in the UK are scared of foreign weapons winding up on our streets, putting their lives in danger. We need tough controls on the Arms, and next week the UK government has a real chance to make this happen when the UN meets in New York."

The survey was also carried out in five other countries across the world and reveals that on average, 30 per cent of people have been the victim of gun crime or know someone who has been in the last five years, with the proportion rising to more than half in Brazil, Guatemala and South Africa.

Nearly two in three people in the six countries, which also includes India and Canada, said they worried about becoming a victim of armed violence, with the number rising to a massive 94 per cent in Brazil, 88 per cent in Guatemala and 72 per cent in South Africa.

An average of 87 per cent of all respondents want stricter international controls on arms exports.

"People in developed and developing countries are clearly calling for action, and when governments meet next week at the UN, they must agree on tougher arms controls to stop weapons falling into the wrong hands," says Rebecca Peters, director of IANSA.

Find out more about our work on the Control Arms Campaign

Note to Editors:

· Spokespeople from Oxfam, Amnesty and IANSA are available for interview.
· David Grimason whose two year old son, Alistair was shot dead in a Turkish café in 2003 has just returned from a visit to conflict affected northern Kenya with Oxfam. David is also available for interview.

Key results from the surveys:

· 53% said that the easy availability of guns is the main reason for fear in the UK.
· The number of people affected by armed violence in the past five years was highest amongst men (14%) and in London (16%)
· More than half the respondents in London (52%) worry about becoming a victim of armed violence. Across the UK, people from low income backgrounds worried most about becoming a victim (48%) – almost 10% higher than the national average.
· 21% of men and 10% of Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights had seen a gun that they understood to be illegal. The figure was highest (20%) in London and the east of England.
· ICM interviewed a random sample of 1000 adults aged 18+, by telephone between 31 May and 1 June 2006. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at http://www.icmresearch.co.uk/
· Ipsos MORI interviewed an average of 1,000 respondents were interviewed with quota controls on age, sex and region during April and May 2006 in Brazil, Guatemala, India, South Africa, Great Britain and Canada. We are confident that our sample percentage is accurate to plus or minus 3% at the 95% confidence interval.
· The Control Arms Campaign is a joint initiative by Amnesty International, Oxfam International and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA). It aims to reduce arms proliferation and misuse and to convince governments to introduce global principles to regulate the transfers of weapons and a binding Arms treaty.

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