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Civilians own 85% of the world’s firearms

According to Geneva-based Small Arms Survey (SAS), a leading firearms monitor, only 13.2% (133 million) of the weapons were in the hands of state-run militaries and 2.2% (23 million) was with law enforcement agencies in 2017.

WT24 Desk

As a ban on semi-automatic weapons in New Zealand comes into effect on Thursday, a closer look at civilian possession of firearms around the world shows a disturbing trend: a stunning 84.6% of the 1.01 billion firearms in the world were owned by civilians, The Hindustan Times reports.

According to Geneva-based Small Arms Survey (SAS), a leading firearms monitor, only 13.2% (133 million) of the weapons were in the hands of state-run militaries and 2.2% (23 million) was with law enforcement agencies in 2017. An investigation published last June by SAS titled ‘Estimating Global Civilian-held Firearms Numbers’ is the latest reliable round-up of global firearms statistics.

Among the civilians possessing arms, a vast majority are in the US, India and China. In the US, which is frequently troubled by mass shootings, civilians owned 393.3 million firearms, while in India they had 71.1 million and in China, the figure stood at 49.7 million.

Pakistan (43.9 million) and Russia (17.6 million) completed the top 5. US had the highest ratio of possession among civilians, with an average of 12 firearms owned by every 10 residents.

Only 1.2 million firearms were owned by residents in New Zealand, where 28-year-old Australian terrorist Brenton Tarrant gunned down 50 people in twin mosque attacks in Christchurch on March 15, 2019.

In the wake of the attacks, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a ban on civilian ownership of semi-automatic weapons from April 11. She has also announced a buyback offer for gun-owning New Zealand citizens in a bid to flush firearms out of civilian possession.

In India, out of the 71.1 million firearms in the hands of civilians, 61.4 million were unregistered weapons.

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