This module is a resource for lecturers  




This Module addresses the legal market in firearms and refers to the overall arms trade, including conventional weapons. Although the rest of the modules in this E4J university module series focus predominantly on the illicit market, it should be borne in mind that firearms are, with a very few exceptions, de facto legal. The exceptions are those weapons diverted from the legal to the illegal market or manufactured illegally (see Module 4). Since illicitly manufactured firearms represent a small part of the illegal market, in practice this means that the majority of illicitly trafficked firearms were produced legitimately. This " legal to lethal" or " legitimate to illegitimate" shift (Frorquin and King 2018) happens in a number of ways, some of which (for example, theft from stockpiles; reactivation of deactivated weapons; diversion from original destination) will be dealt with in Module 4 and Module 8.

This Module provides a brief history of the International Arms Trade, and its regulation, and an outline of the current status of the trade. Understanding the size, nature and development of the legitimate market will prepare your students for their study of the illegitimate market.


Learning outcomes

  • Understand the background to and history of the legitimate arms market
  • Understand how the legitimate arms market functions
  • Identify the key actors in the legitimate market in terms of production, import and export
  • Understand the importance of a legally binding international regulatory framework
Next: Key issues
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