The Small Arms Problem - Weapons of Mass Destruction

Through war, crime, domestic violence and suicides, more than 10,000 lives are lost each week to small arms violence -that is half a million deaths each year.

In the words of former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, "The death toll from small arms dwarfs that of all other weapons systems - and in most years greatly exceeds the toll of the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In terms of the carnage they cause, small arms, indeed, could be described as 'weapons of mass destruction'."

Small arms violence indiscriminately affects countries in the midst of conflict and peace, in the global south and north, across ethnicities and religions, among both the poor and priveleged. From child soldiers in Sierra Leon to school shootings in the US, the vicious cycle of victims--perpetrators--traumatized survivors has created an extraordinary burden of cumulative tragedies and public crises worldwide sustaining cultures of fear and justifications of violence.

The proliferation of small arms is therefore a direct challenge to the Christian imperative to abandon vengeance as a means of conflict resolution and to live faithfully in pursuit of justice, reconciliation and peace.


The Role of the Churches & the Ecumenical Network on Small Arms (ENSA)

With parishes and congregations located at the heart of communities, churches are well-situated to help not only victims and their families but also the very perpetrators of small arms abuse whose rehabilitation calls for a place of refuge, confession, healing and hope.

To this end, the Ecumenical Network on Small Arms (ENSA), a network of predominantly Christian and faith-based organizations engage churches to mobilize faith-based convictions, experiences and religious constituencies to advance the goal of controlling small arms.

This strong position and unique faith perspective enables churches and the ecumenical community to address the small arms problem in several dimensions--from material, moral, ethical to spiritual. They are vital partners in helping to inform, mobilize and provide a holistic and spiritual contribution to the international disarmament campaign.