Arms:  Arms trade

When we talk about the arms trade, we mean quite simply the transfer of weaponry or ammunition from one party to another. This can be either:

licit – ‘above board’

or, illicit – ‘illegal’

When we are thinking about our connections, we are mainly looking at the licit arms trade, which involves our governments, the banks we use, and one of the key industries in our economy.

Of the 639 million firearms in circulation today, 41% have been obtained illegally.

Legally owned guns can end up in the hands of criminals: in the Central African Republic for example, a study has found that 72% of the guns used in crimes had at one time been legally registered.

The issue of the illicit arms trade is a complex one, and even reputable sources often confuse the facts and figures associated with the licit and illicit arms trades. This is perhaps understandable- the illicit and licit arms markets are closely associated and do drive each other. There is also the issue of what has been termed ‘grey market transfers’, where governments, agents and individuals exploit loopholes and intentionally circumvent arms legislation.  This often leads to a strange ‘third’ trade in arms that can be considered neither fully licit or illicit.