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Documenting and Collecting Illicit Firearms

HMAS Darwin Arms Interdiction Gulf of Oman
HMAS Darwin Arms Interdiction, Gulf of Oman/Royal Australian Navy

The most recent estimates of Global Firearms Holdings show that the whereabouts and security of 754 million of the world’s firearms are unknown. To reduce the availability of illicit weapons for crime and conflict, most governments attempt to identify and document these firearms. At the same time, they also collect and destroy unlawfully held or surplus weapons and ammunition. 

While there have been some large, successful national gun buybacks, most countries locate and collect very few illicit weapons as a proportion of their national stockpile. 

In Africa, it is estimated that only 5.9 million of 40 million firearms held by non-state owners are registered with authorities. Despite this, national reports to the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms show that African countries declared a total of only 6,464 firearms seized, surrendered or found in 2021. Kenya reported the most seizures, with 1,922. Guinea saw the highest number surrendered, with 1,613. 

When totals are reported for 2022, the 12,335 weapons collected during the Africa Amnesty Month is likely to boost this number. 

Opportunities exist to enable more African countries to locate, then to document or destroy many more illicit and surplus firearms in accordance with their national laws. Supported by international donors, the Centre for Armed Violence Reduction designs and installs solutions such as AIM and ArmsTracker which enable state agencies to detect and document, then to curb the proliferation of illicit weapons and armed violence. 

* ArmsTracker, AIM and future upgrades can be supplied at no cost to ODA-eligible countries. 

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