The Methodist Church is working to reduce gun violence.
What are small arms?
Small arms are weapons that can be carried by a single person,
either for military or civilian use. They include weapons such as
grenades, hand-guns, landmines, light missiles, mortars, pistols,
and sub-machine guns. Eight million small arms are produced every
Why is the issue of small arms an important
The International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) describes
small arms as 'weapons of mass destruction.'
More people are killed by small arms in a year than by larger
weapons such as tanks, warships or bomber jets. Almost one person
every minute is killed by a bullet from a gun. Men, as the main
buyers, owners and users of small arms are the most direct
casualties of gun violence.
However, women are victimised to a disproportionate degree; they
are particularly at risk of violence in the home, and rape at
gunpoint. Children too suffer greatly as a result of small arms:
according to the Control Arms Campaign, 'an estimated 300,000
children are working as soldiers in conflicts around the
The violence caused by small arms hinders a country's
development, and leads to an unwillingness on the part of other
countries to provide humanitarian aid.
Surely there are rules controlling the spread of small
The arms industry suffers from lack of regulation, widespread
corruption, and bribes. Loopholes allow arms dealers to bypass arms
controls. As a result, access to weapons is easy. There are no
binding international laws to stop small arms falling into the
possession of killers and human rights abusers.
What does the Methodist Church say about small
The Methodist Church is strongly critical of the arms trade, and
is committed to working towards a more peaceful world, as
Christians are encouraged to do (James 3:18). The 1997 Methodist
Conference described the action they took concerning small arms in
'Over the past year the Methodist Church along with ecumenical
partners has been active in calling on HM Government to stop
producing arms sales and to make investment available for the
conversion of arms-producing industries to other, non-lethal forms
of production. The Methodist Church has been active through the
Peace Forum of the CCBI, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT)
and the Land Mines Campaign.'
The Church urged the UK government to support an International
Arms Trade Treaty (IATT). An IATT would prevent states from
transferring arms that would be used in serious violations of human
rights or that would hinder sustainable development. States would
also have to be more open and transparent where arms transfers are
For further information
The following sites provide information about small arms and
tell you how you can get involved in campaigns:
Campaign Against Arms Trade: www.caat.org.uk
Control Arms Campaign: www.controlarms.org
UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office: www.fco.gov.uk (search for 'small
International Action Network on Small Arms: www.iansa.org