Organized criminal groups, including gangs, and terrorist groups have similarities and operate in the same space. The divisions between these groups are not always clear, suggesting the existence of a continuum, between them. However, more apparent are the divisions in their relationship with firearms and their misuse and illicit trafficking.
The illustrative examples provided in this Module have highlighted the different requirements for firearms of each group. Organized criminal groups may use them for protection, commission of offences, and as a commodity for trading with other groups. Gangs, particularly on the smaller end of the scale, tend to use firearms as a tool for protection and intimidation rather than a commodity. Terrorist groups regard them primarily as a tool for access to power and for the commission of offences. In rare cases have there been instances of organized criminal groups and terrorist groups exchanging arms for cultural goods.
There are clear distinctions between organized criminal groups and terrorist but in the new globalized context we shall consider also the involvement of terrorist groups in criminal conducts, their level of sophistication and politicization, and their international dimension, with more prominence given to the central role played by illicit firearms trafficking in their actions, development and evolution. It is obvious that in absence of firearms supply it would be more difficult for these groups to control territories or to execute attacks at local levels.
By promoting a more comprehensive approach, this new paradigm moves gradually away from the traditional single-threat approach and addresses illicit trafficking and procurement of firearms by these groups as a priority.
What is clear is that any efforts by the international community, or by individual States, to tackle the illicit flow of firearms must also tackle OCGs, gangs and terrorism together as a continuum and integral to the problem. Any attempt to take an individual approach will considerably reduce the effects of interventions in this direction.