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18.9.2021 : 10:39 : +0200

Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites

Since 1979 over 500 events involving unplanned explosions at munitions sites were recorded. The Small Arms Survey has released online detailed findings from its Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites (UEMS) database, providing information on the location, causes and casualties of each incident.

For up-to-date information, see the Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites pages.

Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction

The Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction (RASR) Initiative is a long-term, coordinated, regional approach to address the threats posed by excess, unstable, loosely secured or otherwise at-risk stockpiles of conventional weapons and munitions.
» Learn more about the RASR Initiative


The Small Arms Survey project on inventories and stockpiles is a continuous programme to gather comprehensive data on the distribution of small arms and light weapons around the world. The project examines weapons ownership among civilians, youth gangs, insurgencies and other non-state armed groups, law enforcement agencies, governments, and armed forces. It also collects information on the production of new weapons and destruction of old weapons, especially through disarmament projects, major forces affecting overall totals.

The aspect of small arms and light weapons that is best understood globally is the geography of global firearms ownership. Firearms—rifles, shotguns, sidearms, sub-machine guns, machine gun and heavy machine guns—are the most numerous, the only type of small arms for which registration data is widely available, and the type most readily estimated in case data is lacking. It has not yet been possible to arrive at global estimates for other small arms and light weapons.

Small Arms Survey research shows that there are at least 1,013 million combined civilian, law enforcement, and military firearms in the world. The majority of global firearms, roughly 85 per cent of the known total, belong to civilian owners. While these figures apply to firearms, estimates of most other types of small arms and light weapons remain elusive. The Survey continuously collects new data on small arms inventories and stockpiles as part of its ongoing research and in cooperation with other research projects.

State Stockpiles

Government-owned small arms inventories are a major small arms category, covering some 133 million military small arms and 22.7 million among law enforcement agencies. These also are the largest category stored in coherent stockpiles.

Civilian Inventories

Most of the world's 1,013 million small arms are firearms in civilian hands, which total approximately 857 million. Civilian ownership is the fastest-growing category, as consumers buy more guns and as former military and law enforcement weapons gradually shift into civilian hands.

Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites

Despite efforts to address their causes, the rate of reported unplanned explosions at munitions sites has increased in recent years.  This could indicate that either the problem is getting worse, or that reporting of incidents is improving. 

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