(File pix) People looking at the Chicago Gun Share Programme art installation in Chicago yesterday. The installation is designed to resemble a bike-sharing station and draw attention to the relative ease with which people can obtain guns. AFP Photo

EVERY day, hundreds of lives are lost due to gun violence worldwide. Guns are responsible for about half of all violent deaths — nearly a quarter million each year.

But the dire consequences of gun violence are not limited to those slain by guns.

For every person killed by a gun, many more are injured, maimed, and forced to flee their home and community.

Still, many more live under constant threats of gun violence. Economic and social cost of gun violence is appalling.

It is estimated that nearly US$2 trillion (RM7.9 trillion) could
be saved — equivalent to 2.6 per cent of the global gross domestic product — if the global homicide rates were significantly reduced.

If we were to achieve the ambitious goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which explicitly links sustainable development and security, we need to tackle this scourge of gun violence head on.

The pandemic of gun violence has many roots.

These range from legal and political, to socio-economic and cultural factors.

Lack of adequate legislation and regulation on gun control, insufficient resource and capacity to enforce such legislation, lack of employment and alternative livelihood for youths, ex-gangs and ex-combatants, and a culture that glorifies violence and equates guns with masculinity all exacerbate gun violence.

Such complex, multifaceted problems require equally multi-faceted, sustainable solutions that address root causes.

Governments, while primarily responsible for controlling guns, cannot do it alone.

To end the crisis of gun violence, we must work together.

The Global Week of Action Against Gun Violence is a conduit for fostering cooperation on this critical issue among all stakeholders — government, international, regional and sub-regional organisations, research institutes, private companies and civil society organisations — to come together and pool our experience, strength and expertise.

And, we must address the human factor behind gun violence.

It is essential that we recognise that gun violence affects women, men, girls and boys differently, and that we need to seek different strategies to address all dimensions of gun violence.

Next month, states will gather at the United Nations headquarters in New York for the Third Review Conference on the Programme of Action on small arms — the key global instrument that has guided international efforts in the fight against the illicit trade in small arms over the past two decades.

The conference will provide an important opportunity for the international community to renew its commitment to silence the guns that affect so many innocent lives, and to continue its work towards achieving our common goal of peace, security and development for all.


Under secretary-general and United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs

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