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Small arms, big bangs

A thousand people die every day from gunshot wounds, and 3,000 more are severely injured. Surprisingly, those targeted are not troops. Nearly three quarters of guns are in the hands of civilians not armies; and three quarters of people who die are citizens, not soldiers. If a 1,000 people were dying each day from bird flu, it’d be treated as a global emergency. So why don’t Governments just pass laws to outlaw them? It’s just one of many conundrums targeted by the International Action Network on Small Arms - a global movement of 800 civil society organizations working in 120 countries to get rid of small arms and light weapons. It’s Director, Rebecca Peters, joins today’s guests to take aim at gun traders, and shoot down the old idea that the more guns we have, the safer we’ll be.

  • Yukiko Murasaki arrived in Cambodia to find that guns were part of the household furniture. But by the end of last year, she and her colleagues from Japan’s Assistance Team for Small Arms Management in Cambodia had collected around 28,000 guns. She tells us how.
  • John Rodsted - part of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines that won the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize - was firing on all cylinders again in Dublin this year when over 100 countries committed to a ban on cluster munitions. He swaps strategies on negotiating international conventions.
  • Author Alasdair Soussi is researching the first US invasion of Lebanon, which took place 50 years ago this month. Ally takes us to the beaches of Beirut on 15 July 1958 to introduce us to the unusual ‘enemies’ confronting US troops as they landed.
As disarming communities and countries is today’s target, the CD for this week is Ceasefire, inspired by peace-talks in Sudan between the Moslem North and the predominantly Christian South. Reflecting the hope by both sides for a peaceful future, Christian rapper Emmanuel Jal gets together with Moslem musician Abdel Gadir Salim to show what colourful, dynamic sounds are produced when two different cultures work side-by-side.

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