This module is a resource for lecturers

Possible class structure

This section contains recommendations for a teaching session and the activities and timings intended to achieve learning outcomes through a three-hour class. The lecturer may wish to amend or vary some of the sections below to give more time to other elements, including introduction, icebreakers, conclusion or short breaks. The structure could also be adapted for shorter or longer classes, given that the class durations vary across countries.

Prior to the class, it would be useful if students were to familiarize themselves with the United Nations Arms Control Process in respect of firearms and the Arms Trade Treaty by reading about the process (e.g. Mcdonald, 2012; 2013; Squires, 2014: 305-318; Parker and Wilson, 2016).

The first hour

The discussion about the issues arising can then form a basis for looking at the contexts (Figure 4.1 and Figure 4.2) in which different illicit firm supply processes operate. The first part of the class could be devoted to exploring these societal contexts, the criminal opportunities they create for illegal firearm movements or transactions, the relations of supply and demand, and the illegal firearm cultures operating there. Students should be encouraged and supported to use the website, while acknowledging its limitations, to construct profiles of illegal firearm supply and misuse.

This then paves the way for exploring how social and cultural influences, such as fear, patriotism, insecurity, conflict mentality, masculinity, 'respect' and gun culture, might influence the demand for firearms. A reading of the following might be helpful here: Arsovska, Jana and Yuliya Zabyelina (2014). 'Irrationality, Liminality and the Demand for Illicit Firearms in the Balkans and the North Caucasus'. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, Vol. 20, Issue 3, 399-420.

Alternative readings

  • Cock, Jacklyn (2001).'Gun violence and masculinity in contemporary South Africa', in Robert Morrell (ed) Changing Men in Southern Africa, Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press.
  • Stretesky, Paul and Mark Pogrebin (2007) 'Gang-Related Gun Violence Socialization, Identity, and Self' . Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Volume 36, Number 1, 85-114.

Having undertaken both activities, students should be encouraged to report their ideas to the rest of the class.

The second hour

A central feature of the second hour is exploring the various means described by Spapens by which firearms might move from ' legality' to ' illegality'. This will require an understanding of the model he has developed (Spapens, 2007), and the various loopholes by which firearms in large or small numbers move from legality to illegality. Consult case studies described in the Module. Students will report on their deliberations, reflecting also on the opportunities for regulation and/or law enforcement to close these loopholes.

The third hour

The third hour encourages students to explore the consequences of illicit firearms markets and, by reference to the case studies and material in the Module, to describe various contexts in which illicit firearm supplies have produced, prolonged, intensified, widened and enhanced the lethal nature of armed violence and conflict. The discussion should share contrasting scenarios and contexts.

The final section of the class entails reflecting across the Module theme about the diversity, in form, scale and contexts, of illicit firearms markets and the supply chains for illegal firearms. What conclusions may be drawn? What ideas and concepts are available now to help us understand these illicit markets and the ways in which they work? How much better off are we than Duquet and Goris's ' blind men describing an elephant'?

Wrap up and conclude by drawing these final themes together.

Next: Core reading
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