By Sarah Chamberlain
Are you distressed by the global proliferation of guns? If so, you’re not alone.
It is estimated there are approximately one billion guns currently in circulation, with millions more added every year. Why, exactly, is this problematic? The International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) - of which Nonviolence International is a member - points out that many of these guns are used to facilitate armed conflict, crime, human trafficking, and/or poaching. These factors further contribute to instability, leading to the mass displacement of peoples and the loss of economic development opportunities. As the number of available guns increases, so do the chances of them falling into the wrong hands.This is why International Gun Destruction Day, which takes place on the ninth of July, is so important. A result of a campaign initiated by the United Nations in 2001, this day commends actions that have been taken to reduce gun violence and encourages greater commitment by governments to the disposal of small arms. More specifically, it serves as a reminder that stockpiling, transferring, or reselling small arms are not lasting solutions; destruction is the only effective form of gun disposal.
As far as symbolic importance goes, the observance of International Gun Destruction Day sends a message of solidarity with everybody who’s been affected by gun violence. Furthermore, each action taken (by both individuals and governments) in support of this day brings the international community one step closer to achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16.4. This goal is concerned with the preservation of peace and security via the halt of illicit arms flows. Rebecca Peters, the former director of IANSA and an award-winning political advocate for gun sense, was once quoted as saying, “Every gun that is destroyed is a weapon that is no longer available to be used to kill, injure or intimidate.”
Getting involved is simple. To raise awareness of the campaign, share the International Gun Destruction Day logo on social media. To stay updated on the global effort to “scrap the surplus”, follow IANSA and Nonviolence International-NY on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram. Contact your local representatives and ask them to use their influence in the legislature to push for small arms disposal. Whatever you choose to do, remember that stockpiling, transferring, and reselling guns isn’t enough - for permanent change, destruction is key.