Americans represent only 4% of the world’s population but they own 40% of small arms around the world, according to a study based on estimates released Monday.
There are more than one billion such weapons in circulation on the planet, 85% of which are owned by individuals, the rest are owned by military and police, adds the study unveiled on the sidelines of the third conference of review of the United Nations Programme of Action to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.
The authors of the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies report that they rely on multiple sources, including homeowner registers in 133 countries. Only 56 were considered for the study.
Of the 857 million civilian-owned weapons, 393 million are in the United States. “Every year, Americans buy about 14 million new weapons,” imported or not said one of the authors of the study, Aaron Karp.
“The US market is very permissive” and Americans have access to weapons that can not be obtained elsewhere in the world by citizens because of more restrictive legislation, he added.
The debate over the possession of weapons in the United States, a constitutional right, is regularly revived in this country during mass shootings, particularly in schools or universities.
While 100 Americans hold an average of 121 weapons, this ratio drops to 53 in Yemen, 39 in Montenegro and 35 in Canada. In Japan and Indonesia, less than one weapon is held for the same number of 100 people.