Research Report

Stray Bullets:: The Impact of Small Arms Misuse in Central America

William Godnick
Robert Muggah
Camilla Waszink
Copyright Date: Oct. 1, 2002
Published by: Small Arms Survey
Pages: 51
OPEN ACCESS
https://www.jstor.org/stable/resrep10762
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-3)

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are three factors that influence the use of small arms over other possible choices of weapon: availability, variety, and social norms regarding their use (Villaveces et al., 2001). Central America has excessive availability, a wide variety of military and civilian weapons, and large segments of society willing to use them for a multitude of reasons. Years of civil war and military dictatorship have a great deal to do with this. However, increasingly, other factors that condition armed violence include the narcotics trade, the activities of youth gangs with ties to groups in...

  2. (pp. 3-8)

    There is widespread recognition that Central American society is inundated with small arms and light weapons, primarily military and civilian firearms.³ Some academics estimate two million small arms and light weapons circulate in Guatemala alone, while others attribute that figure to the region as a whole (Fisas, 2000). In El Salvador there are an estimated 400,000 firearms in civilian hands, of which only 170,000 (see Table 1) or 42.5 per cent were registered in 2000 (Cruz and Beltrán, 2000).⁴ At one point, the Attorney-General of Honduras claimed that there were 67,000 AK-47s in the country, although this figure is probably...

  3. (pp. 8-32)

    A long-standing democratic tradition, a booming tourist industry, no standing army, and the significant role played by Costa Rica in the Central American peace processes distinguish Costa Rica from its neighbours. However, after the wars in the rest of the region started to wind down, Costa Rica began to experience the general insecurity caused by regional drug and arms trafficking and global economic downturns. Legal and illegal migration of Nicaraguans to Costa Rica came about as a result of years of natural disasters and war in Nicaragua and increasingly attractive labour opportunities for low-skilled workers in Costa Rica. While Nicaraguan...

  4. (pp. 33-33)

    Despite the shortcomings of reliable data on firearm-related homicides, crime, and other related factors in Central America, it would be difficult to find five contiguous countries anywhere else in the world with as much comparative data produced so recently. However, generating effective policy interventions to deal with the problems associated with weapons proliferation and misuse requires still more precise data over longer periods of time. Police authorities in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras were created nine, five, and four years ago respectively, and have only begun to consolidate their intended roles in society. Nicaragua has not compiled firearm-related homicide and...