This module is a resource for lecturers


After describing the legal market in Module 3, this Module investigates how the illicit market in firearms works. The Module addresses similar kinds of questions raised in respect of the legal trade. Who are the recipients of these weapons, their parts and ammunition? Where are the supply points? What are the factors that determine the levels of supply and demand? How do firearms become illicit when the majority are legally produced and transferred? What methods do traffickers use to divert legal firearms into illicit markets?

A variety of social contexts and enabling factors that allow different types of illegal firearms markets to flourish are considered. These include, for example, stolen weapons, converted and recycled weapons, and diverted ex-military supplies. Illegal markets can take many forms and may require different types of regulation (Squires, 2014).

This Module is important for several reasons. First, knowing how the illicit market works can reveal the intervention points for preventing the illegal trade and addressing the harmful effects of indiscriminate firearms proliferation and misuse - see also Modules 1 (Introduction to Firearms, their Availability, Illicit Trafficking and Criminal Use) and 10 (Impact of Firearms on Society and Development). Second, by describing how the international community has responded with standards, agreement and treaties, the Module helps to understand how these relate to the illicit market. Third, the description of the market determines and guides actions at national and international levels - see Modules 5 (International Legal Frameworks), 6 (National Regulations on Firearms) and 9 (International Cooperation).

Learning outcomes

  • Understanding of the contexts in which illicit firearms markets might arise
  • Understanding the influential supply and demand factors within illicit firearms markets
  • To describe and give examples of the actors involved in the illicit market
  • Understanding of the variety of types of illicit trafficking and of clandestine delivery
  • Understanding of the major sources for illicit firearms
  • Understanding of the consequences and impact of the illicit firearms markets
Next: Key issues
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