Guns for the World

by olgasoutstanding

When I was in graduate school, one of my friends and I decided to embark on a massive research project on the international gun trade.  We were warned off several times, often by the most unexpected people, and eventually the project died.  We learned a lot in the process, some of it surprising, some of it not so surprising.

The gun culture in the United States has been carefully cultivated.  U.S. gun culture is intimately connected with terrorism, conflict, and genocide.  Most Americans are entirely ignorant of the connection.  Then again, most humans believe that advertisement works on everyone except them.

Let’s start with some simple statistics.  The U.S. has the largest arms manufacturing business in the world.  Nearly a third of the weapons sold internationally come from the U.S.  Our closest rival, Russia, accounts for a quarter; no other country gets into the double digits.

How do these weapons end up in the hands of genocidal governments, warlords, and terrorists?  Often, it is through perfectly legal channels.  The U.S. provides assistance to foreign countries, which can include weapons or funds that can be used to buy weapons.  In countries where the government is on the take or has a corrupt bureaucracy, military corruption,  or very little control at all, legally-purchased arms can be turned into profit or misappropriated, both domestically and internationally, very quickly.  (The case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which receives U.S. military aid, complicates the picture even more.)  Once arms are out of the U.S., they are much easier to move to third parties.  Light controls over purchases within the U.S. and inconsistent laws also facilitate organized crime go-betweens who can make multiple purchases to smuggle out of the country.

Gun manufacturers profit off of international conflict.  They profit more off of international conflict than off of domestic sales.  Loose gun control laws in the U.S. are being used to subsidize genocide, war, and terror around the world.  We have been sold a bill of goods.

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