Many states are beset by forms of armed violence that do not rise to the level of armed conflict (war), but that nevertheless generate serious health, social, and economic consequences. In fact, non-conflict armed violence claims far more lives worldwide than do ongoing wars. But it is a complex phenomenon, involving a mosaic of actors driven by diverse motivations and conditions. Curtailing its many manifestations requires tailored interventions developed from a sound evidence base.
The 2013 edition of the Small Arms Survey explores different aspects of non-conflict armed violence, focusing on some broad categories as well as specific countries and regions. Individual chapters highlight, wherever possible, improving or deteriorating conditions and existing knowledge concerning the underlying drivers and dynamics of armed violence in those environments. This volume emphasizes that, while successes exist, policy outcomes are more mixed in many other contexts.
In South Africa, for example, the introduction of stronger gun laws following the end of the apartheid era appears to have helped drive down gun homicides and non-fatal assaults, although rates still remain high by global standards (SOUTH AFRICA). Law enforcement pressure is similarly a factor in the significant reductions in armed violence committed by Italian mafia groups in recent years. For many such groups, the use of violence has simply become too risky (MAFIA VIOLENCE).