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18.9.2021 : 10:15 : +0200

Manufacturing Controls

Governments regulate the manufacture of small arms, light weapons, their parts, accessories, and ammunition in order to ensure the activity is consistent with national security and economic interests. Rules governing the storage of produced weapons are designed to curb proliferation risks.

The starting point for such regulation is a basic licensing requirement: there is no weapons production within national jurisdiction without formal governmental approval. Manufacturing licences are generally issued for a limited period of time with the possibility of renewal. They define the types of arms or ammunition the company (or individual) can produce and may prohibit certain kinds of activity, such as the reactivation of deactivated weapons.

National licensing authorities oversee the granting, renewal, suspension, and revocation of manufacturing licences. In some jurisdictions, they also monitor compliance with licence conditions.

The marking, recording, and tracing of manufactured small arms, although often covered by manufacturing legislation, is treated separately on this website. Readers should also consult the International Measures section of the site regarding the regulation of the export of domestically manufactured weapons and of the acquisition of production technology and expertise from foreign sources (licensed production).


Small Arms Survey Publications

  • Behind the Curve: New Technologies, New Control Challenges, edited by Benjamin King and Glenn McDonald, February 2015. Occasional Paper No. 32 (also available in Arabic).

    Download (1.58 MB)
  • One Meeting after Another: UN Process Update, February 2015. Issue Brief No. 12.

    Download (706.79 KB)
  • Ammunition Marking: Current Practices and Future Possibilities, December 2011. Issue Brief No. 3.

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Other Publications

  • GICHD (Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining). 2006. Identifying Synergies between Mine Action and Small Arms and Light Weapons. Geneva: GICHD.

  • Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). 2003. Best Practice Guide on National Controls over Manufacture of Small Arms and Light Weapons. Handbook of Best Practices on Small Arms and Light Weapons. 19 September. FSC GAL/43/03/Rev 3.

    More information
  • Crowley, Michael, Roy Isbister, and Sarah Meek. 2002. Building Comprehensive Controls on Small Arms Manufacturing, Transfer and End-Use. Biting the Bullet. Briefing 13. London and Washington, D.C.: BASIC, International Alert, and Saferworld.

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