Cukier and Sidel provide a much-needed overview of the global problem of gun violence as a threat to public health, including the effects of violence, the sources of firearms (both legal and illegal), the factors shaping demand, and the interventions aimed at reducing the misuse of guns.
Just as guns know no borders, gun violence has become a global epidemic, killing hundreds of thousands of people each year and injuring many more. The toll is staggering. Experts estimate that there are 35,000 annual gun-related deaths in Brazil, 10,000 in South Africa, 20,000 in Colombia, and 30,000 in the United States. While guns kill or maim great numbers of people in war zones, two thirds of small arms are in the possession of civilians. Although guns do not in and of themselves cause violence, they increase its lethality and fuel cultures of violence. This book documents the global gun trade, its threat to public health, and efforts to remedy the situation.
Virtually every illegal gun begins as a legal gun. With the globalization of trade in licit products has come the globalization of the illegal trade in guns. For example, weapons originating in the United States fuel violence in Canada, Latin America, and as far away as Japan. And unregulated ownership of guns fuels crime. Because weapons tend to flow from unregulated areas to regulated areas, international cooperation is critical, but global efforts have been hampered by major arms producers and gun lobbies such as the National Rifle Association. Since 1998 there has been an emerging global movement to control the illicit trade and misuse in guns, and many countries have moved to strengthen their gun laws in an effort to combat this global epidemic.