Public health

Small arms and light weapons are a public health problem: they are a preventable cause of widespread death, injury and suffering.

In some countries, small arms violence is the leading cause of death among certain populations. Public health and medical professionals view gun violence as a problem that can be reduced using strategies successfully employed against other societal health problems (such as smoking-related illness and motor vehicle injuries)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends restricting access to firearms as part of its Violence & Injury Prevention program.

Latest news

7 April is World Health Day, and IANSA members are campaigning to raise awareness about the public health aspects of small arms worldwide.

On 28 February, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War(IPPNW) presented a side panel titled Control the Arms Trade: Improve Human and Environmental Health.

In Switzerland, a broad coalition of organisations and political parties said they were disappointed but not defeated after a majority of 56% voted against an initiative to introduce stricter gun laws on 9 February.

Canada’s gun laws have resulted in a significant drop in the number of homicides committed with a firearm, according to new research published in the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

3 December was the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. 3000 people are seriously injured by guns every day, many injuries leading to long-term or permanent disability.

Latest resources

A summary report of the side event "Health, women and development and the Arms Trade Treaty", co-organised by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Most of the Health Ministers of the Americas signed this landmark 2008 declaration, recognising the impact of guns in injuries, murders and suicides, and recommending greater cooperation to reduce access to these weapons.

In most countries, there is little or no accurate information on the extent of gun injuries. These UN guidelines are designed to help researchers collect this information.

The EU office of the World Health Organisation compiles health-related data that incorporates gun injuries. Their database is a useful resource for researchers, especially epidemiologists.

Globally, there is very little information on the true costs of armed violence. This UN manual provides a methodology to allow national researchers to collect and analyse data on the costs of injuries, including gun injuries.