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Global Epidemic: Arms Trafficking

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Sitting across the street waits a burglar preparing for the night’s robbery. The incoming cool night air reaches his neck, making his hair stand on end. The lights in the house go out and out comes the family. Feeling his heart begins to beat faster and faster, he pulls his gun from the glove compartment and exits the car as the family leaves for the evening. He rushes to the front door, trying to get as much time inside as he can. Breaking the front window he reaches for the lock on the inside. Once in, he dashes up the stairs knowing that that is probably where the valuables will be. A car pulls into the driveway as he’s searching dressers. Not planning for an early return. (After just serving time for a carjacking) he starts to panic. Knowing that if he gets caught tonight he’ll go right back to jail, he manages to hide himself in a closet just as a child enters the room. Heart pounding, he tries to stand as still as he possibly could. The kid opens the closet door to find a gun pointed right at his face. With a sudden bang the kid falls to the ground motionless. In a frenzy, the kid’s parents rush up the stairs to find the robber standing over their now dead child’s body with blood covering the walls. Not knowing what to do, the robber shoots down the man and woman and runs out the front door, leaving behind his car. The weapon used? A 9mm Jericho that was bought at the local hunting shop.

Three cargo trucks and a pickup come into view as the sun sets behind the horizon painting the sky orange. They’re carrying 100 AK-47s, 20 RPGs, about 20,000 AK rounds, 50 Rockets, and 200 hand grenades. The destination point is two miles away from the closest village. Waiting at the rendezvous point are 15 heavily armed men, one being one of Africa’s most heartless warlords. After procuring the shipment, and giving the deliverers $800,000 in untraceable cash, the armed men took their newly acquired weapons and marched into the nearby village. There they slaughtered every last soul unfortunate enough to be there. The only reason for the assault is to secure their holdings on the lands resources. The weapons were manufactured in the United States.

1980-1984, the Cold War. The highest point for arms transfer for modern society. The top suppliers? The Soviet Union, France, the United Kingdom, and… Oh, right, the United States (Bromley). Being one of the most powerful nations in the world today, other, smaller countries look towards us for help, but are we really doing everything we can to help them? I think not. One of the best qualities that a person could say about the United States is that when you live in the U.S., you have access to all of the latest technology, medical advances, etc., but is having this range of access to everything really that great for society? Sure, you can go and buy the latest Ipod or Iphone or even the latest medical equipment but what about guns? It is our constitutional right to be able to bear arms and form a militia but is it too easy for a person to acquire a gun? And for the wrong reasons? According to Evan Jean Lolless, “A gun is as easy to get as a pack of cigarettes,” And according to some estimates, there is a gun for every man, women, and child and they all start at legal manufacturers (Milling).

Illicit gun trafficking does not only affect the amount of homicides that occur but it goes hand in hand with drug trafficking. A drug addict will do anything to get their drugs; robbery, car theft, killing, anything. In this continuously changing society, a person doesn’t need money anymore to acquire drugs. According to Milling in the article “Guns in America” addicts burglarize homes and trade stolen guns for drugs. The dealer sells the guns to the more brazen carjackers and robbers. With guns becoming a form of currency in the underground drug world, easy access to guns is hurting our society. All that the government would have to do is have a more thorough background check on the people buying the weapons to ensure that the buyer has no criminal history or is mentally unstable.

On a more global scale, the United States is one of the constant top arms exporting country. To give recent figures for the United States arms trade, for the period of 2004-2008, the U.S. had a 31% share of global arms exports going to a total of 69 countries. The top three countries that these weapons went to were South Korea being number one with 15%, Israel being second with 13%, and the UAE being third with 11% (Bromley). Some of the top news stories are ones involving violent conflicts with countries or groups of people such as the Israelis and Palestinians. There is a long history of conflict between these two ethnic groups over territory but the United States is putting fuel into the fire with their wanting to make money attitude. Elected officials in the United States are always telling the public that they are trying to negotiate and mediate peacefully with any conflict countries to “bring peace to these war torn countries” but they still are shipping weapons to these countries at war. Africa, probably the top war torn country in today’s world, has had an increase in military spending. From 1998 to 2007, the military spending went up by 5.7 billion dollars (Bromley). We are constantly sending peace core members and numerous supplies to these third world countries but what good do these things do if we’re still sending them weapons so that they can continue fighting? The Middle East, the fight against terrorism. Military spending increased by 30.2 billion dollars from 1998 to 2007. If we’re in a conflict with countries in the Middle East, why would we send weapons to the UAE (United Arab Emirates)?






I’ve mentioned above how some of the weapons are used and who some suppliers are, but how do these weapons end up on the black market? They all start at legal manufacturers, but big crime rings continue to supply other criminals with guns. In Africa, the main types of weapons transported are small arms (Ak-47s, handguns, etc.). Small arms are easily concealable and light so their smuggling them is easier. Long, porous and poorly patrolled land borders facilitate the illicit transfer of small arms on foot or by truck (Schroeder). Traffickers also smuggle small arms along Africa’s rivers and coasts (Schroeder). Malian arms smugglers pack small arms into waterproof sacks, attach them to the bottom of boats, and run them up the Niger River (Schroeder). As you can probably tell, gun traffickers are not an unimaginative group of people. To get a global reach in arms trafficking, smugglers need a complex system in order to ship their equipment (Schroeder). Aircrafts are used to ferry weapons inter-continentally and regionally. Traffickers often have front companies, false paperwork, and a loose collection of brokers, financers, and corrupt officials operating out of several countries in order to sell their goods to other countries.

From a big city mugging by gangsters to a village assaults by warlords in Africa, gun trafficking is a major issue in today’s global society that does not receive the right amount of attention that it deserves. Being one of the major powers in global issues, the United States claims that they are trying to keep peace among countries and give help where needed but they are not doing all they can to help. The world has the potential to become a better place, the people who have the power to make it happen need to step up and do something in order for it to happen.





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