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GUNS The Illegal Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons. December 2011 Status Update Ed Quitoriano. Hypothesis of the Study. Illegal trade and proliferation of firearms undermine state building and prolong the duration of conflicts

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December 2011 Status Update Ed Quitoriano

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The Illegal Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons

December 2011 Status Update

Ed Quitoriano

Hypothesis of the Study

  • Illegal trade and proliferation of firearms undermine state building and prolong the duration of conflicts

  • Sub-hypothesis 1: illegal trade and proliferation of firearms undermines state function in providing protection and policing against crime

  • Sub-hypothesis 2: illegal trade and proliferation of firearms undermines state functions in providing welfare to its citizens

Research Questions

  • How illegal trade in firearms shaped and is shaped by the conflict

  • Link of illegal trade in firearms to state building

  • Violence and protection and the functions of illegal and licensed firearms

  • Illegal trade in firearms and state functions in protection and citizens’ welfare

Theoretical Framework

  • Kalyvas (2006) theory of civil war violence (selective violence)

  • The importance of collaboration and corresponding dilemmas when sovereignty is fragmented (mutual presence of state and non-state armed actors)

  • The importance of control to maintain collaboration and prevent defection

  • The role of selective violence in maintaining control

  • Local cleavages and individual agency in selective violence (privatization of violence)

  • Role guns in reinforcing selective violence and fragmentation of sovereignty

Civil War Violence and Quotable Quotes

  • “This is a political war and it calls for discrimination in killing. The best weapon for killing would be a knife but I’m afraid we can’t do it that way. The worst is an airplane. The next worst is artillery. Barring a knife, the best is a rifle – you know who you’re killing. – John Paul Vann, US Adviser in Vietnam

  • “People talk and people die.” – Eamon Collins, former IRA cadre

  • “What kills directly is the tongue.” – Nicaraguan officer

Methods Applied

  • Literature review

  • Secondary data collection (statistical data)

  • Life history – ‘conversations’; but in actual field conduct ‘mediated conversations’ due to issues of trust and security; also, “no names” preconditions of the life history tellers

  • The researcher mobilized third parties who are previously known to and trusted by the life history tellers

Limitations/Challenges in Data Collection

  • Reliability of official statistics on illegal firearms

  • Inter-operability of the system of legal and illegal trade in firearms; porosity of legal, black and grey markets

  • The cumulative unknown since World War II proliferation of weapons

Collected Data (1)

  • Life histories: broker, facilitator-transporter, gun collector, legal traders/importers, media-observer, gun shop owners

  • Registered/Licensed Firearms: 1990-2007 and 2010 (national figures)

  • 1990-2007 trend in legal purchases (highest during 1996 peace agreement, lowest during 2000 war in Mindanao)

  • 2010 regional distribution of licensed and loose firearms

Collected Data (2)

  • Latest Small Arms Survey 2009, 2010

  • Global black market of firearms

  • Trafficking, smuggling of firearms and the global economy

  • International legal framework on firearms trade

  • International arms trade

  • ‘how to’ guide in small arms trade

  • Profiles of ‘merchants’ of death

  • Evolution of the firearms legal framework of the Philippines

Structure of the Illegal Trade in Firearms(Gathered from Life Histories)

Supply Side



Trader’s Intermediary



Buyer’s Intermediary

End Users

Non-Hierarchical Bargaining Field

Demand Side

Security Agencies

System of the Illegal Trade in Firearms(Gathered from Life Histories)


Conflict Fields


Legal and Illegal Structures of Protection




Black & Grey



Illegal Supply

Illegal Inventory

Business Elites

Financial Incentives

Crime Syndicates

Profit Margins and Rents from Protection

Private Individuals

Multifunctional and Multi-directional Demand Structure

The Function-Based Incentive Structure in Illegal Firearms Trade(Gathered from Life Histories)

Supply Side

Black & Grey


  • Rents from protection

  • Cash conversion of inventory

  • Recycling of recovered loose firearms

  • Force multiplier for state security functions

  • Strengthen power of local elites

  • Incremental price gains in transactions

Demand Side

  • private protection

  • Power projection

  • Leverage in political bargaining

  • Enhancement of belligerency claim

  • Economic protection

  • Military (force) multiplier

  • Fill gaps in state protection

Registered/Licensed Firearms, 1990-2008PNEMO 6= Presidential National Emergency Memorandum Order No. 6 of 1990; PNEMO 6 cancelled licenses of all registered firearms. The 1994 Amnesty Program offered to legitimize all loose firearms.

Licensed Guns Purchased from Gun Dealers, 1990-2007Cumulative Total:752,752

GRP-MNLF Peace Agreement

GRP All Out War against the MILF

Distribution of Loose and Licensed Firearms, Philippines, as of 2010

Total Firearms:




1,905,679 (67.3%)



929,034 (32.7%)

1.39 million (73%)

(1.1 million or 80% in NCR)

2.06 million



( 270,822 or 30% in NCR)



148,900 (8%)





358,250 (19%)

Increasingly armed population (Philippines): Licensed firearms density, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2008






Loose Firearms and Crime, Philippines, as of 2010

Crime Incidents: 5,779

Firearms Used: 6,075


Firearms Used: 40


Firearms Used:

6,035 (99.3%)

3,030 (99.6%)

Crime Incidents: 2,997

Firearms Used: 3,041



1,321 (99.6%)

Crime Incidents: 1,292

Firearms Used:



Crime Incidents: 1,490

Firearms Used:


1,528 (98.4%)

Distribution of Loose and Licensed Firearms in Mindanao, as of 2010









R10 Total:


42,231 Fas

(61% of total in the region)


26,514 FAs




114,189 Fas

(85% of total in the region)

20,203 FAs

ARMM Total:



62,718 Fas

(74% of total in the region)

22, 210 FAs


R12 Total:


Philippines 2010: 1 Loose Firearm per 49 persons

44.5% of all firearms in Mindanao are in ARMM and Central Mindanao

Citizens’ Access to Firearms in Mindanao

How and where else to buy?

By SMS or Mobile Phone


Initial Findings (1)

  • Illegal firearms density bigger than what is officially known (unknown cumulative effect since World War II)

  • Sub-national (regional) bias in illegal firearms distribution; at national level, concentration in NCR; at Mindanao level, concentration in ARMM

  • Tolerance of the legal and institutional framework to gun possession and illegal trade in firearms

  • Close association between legal and illegal trade through the black and grey markets

  • Significant role of hidden structures within the state in the proliferation of the illegal trade in firearms

  • Weak, if not absent, legislative oversight on firearms trade (legal and illegal)

Initial Findings (2)

  • Crimes and Guns: 99% of gun-related crimes are with the use of loose firearms (both at national and sub-national levels)

  • Dichotomy in guns: licensed gun to protect; unlicensed gun to kill

  • The volume of firearms in the hands of the civilian population (2.8 million firearms) is 5 times bigger than the firearms in the hands of the security forces

  • At the national level, there are 2 loose firearms for every licensed firearm

  • At the Mindanao level, there are 2.6 loose firearms for every licensed firearm

  • At the ARMM level, there are 5.6 loose firearms for every licensed firearm

  • In the ARMM, the total number of firearms (licensed and illegal) could arm 10 Army Divisions

  • At the national level, the firearms in the hands of citizens could equip an army of 2.8 million combatants

Initial Findings (3)

  • Illegal firearms: 73% in Luzon Island;

  • In Mindanao, 50% of illegal firearms in Central Mindanao and ARMM

  • From life histories: system and structure of the illegal firearms trade based on non-hierarchical bargaining structure

  • From life histories: function incentive structure in the illegal firearms trade (supply and demand side)

  • From 1990-2008 official statistics on legal gun purchases: increasing density of licensed firearms to population – from 1:129 to 1:56

  • From 2010 official statistics on loose firearms: differently armed populations – 1:49 national average; 1:102 in Northern Mindanao, 1:31 in ARMM

Perplexing Data: Crime, Conflict and Firearms - between Conflict-Prone and Less Conflict-Prone RegionsSource: PNP-FED 2010

Low ARMM Index Crime Volume (2009): effective deterrent or “smoothening” of data?

Index & Non-Index Crime Ratios, 2001-2009: high crime ratio in the center of power and law enforcement

Very low Under 5 child mortality rate in the ARMM: efficient service delivery or “smoothening” of data?

Very low Infant mortality rate in the ARMM: efficient delivery of services or “smoothening of data”?

Male-Female Life Expectancy, 2000-2010

Next steps

  • Continue with literature review

  • Iterate life history collection

  • Collect 10-year panel data on loose firearms

  • Generate data on other state functions (quality and costs of services) such as policing (gun related crimes), health, education and promotion of tourism; compare performance of high firearms density (ARMM, Central Mindanao) and low firearms density (Northern Mindanao)

Thank You!

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