Open Fire: Understanding Global Gun Cultures by Charles Fruehling Springwood

By Charles Fruehling Springwood

Weapons are far and wide: 3 quarters of 1000000000 weapons - from pistols to laptop weapons - exist on the earth this present day. And weapons are every thing: a hard-won image of person freedom, an index of crime and illness, an entire legitimately contributing to an economic system, a well-liked piece of activities gear, and an item of wish, forever duplicated through toys, games and flicks. Open hearth provides a extensive research of the social, cultural and political value of firearms and the worlds they bring. Illustrated with quite a lot of case fabric - from North and South the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa - Open hearth explores and questions this worldwide icon of our occasions. Why do weapons proliferate? What does it suggest to shoot or to be shot? Who owns weapons and who doesn't? How is a firearm, a synthetic factor, very various from the other item? Is there the sort of factor as a "gun psychology"? How are firearms seemed in areas the place they're mostly non-existent? Is a gun a distinct factor while held by means of a white guy?

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But groups that do not control the government, or groups that fear the loss of such control, may seek to stockpile assault rifles and other small arms in anticipation of future conflicts. Communities that, in the present, may enjoy the protection of a government, or of a local or international police force, may fear that their peace will be fleeting. As a result, they may stockpile firearms. In these landscapes of conflict, the local knowledge that a particular warlord, ethnic community, or police force is especially well-armed is meaningful.

Ironically, while no members of Al Qaeda were found among the protesters, it is likely that, at some point, some of the weapons available inside the building might have ended up in the hands of terrorist groups of a similar stamp (see Phythian 2001). Customers at these fairs include representatives of governments (of developing nations in particular), sometimes private citizens, and increasingly, multinational security firms. These latter include such companies as DynCorp, which has been hired by the United States government to perform various military functions in Iraq, and whose mercenaries were even deployed to patrol the streets—carrying semiautomatic assault rifles—in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The increase in firepower in the city of Rio de Janeiro during the last three decades has been both quantitative (greater numbers of firearms) as well as qualitative (more weapons with greater firepower). The city provides a telling case study for understanding what happens to guns after they are purchased, particularly with respect to firearm movement between legal and illegal markets. According to the Viva Rio report titled, “The Value of the Illegal Firearms Market in the City of Rio de Janeiro” (Rivero 2005), out of the entire universe of arms seized by police during criminal activities in the state of Rio de Janeiro Open Fire 3/11/06 34 3:13 pm Page 34 Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun between 1951 and 2003, 81 per cent of the weapons were unlicensed; that is, just one-fifth of the weapons used in registered crimes were acquired legally.

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