Handmade and Deadly: Craft Production of Small Arms in Nigeria

Matthias Nowak and André Gsell
Briefing Paper

Based on extensive research in four Nigerian states, the Briefing Paper Handmade and Deadly: Craft Production of Small Arms in Nigeria finds that the use of craft-produced weapons in firearm-related crime in those states ranges from 32 per cent (Adamawa state) to 69 per cent (Plateau state).

Building on a long-established and often well-reputed practice, craft producers in Nigeria employ a range of blacksmithing techniques to create weapons that can be up to four times as cheap as their industrially produced counterparts. Categories of craft-produced weapons include self-loading pistols, revolvers, break-action shotguns, revolving-action shotguns, pump-action shotguns, sub-machine guns, assault rifles, and muzzle loaders.

The demand for craft weapons is driven by insecurity and the need for protection, including the Boko Haram insurgency, crime and protection from criminals, and conflicts between farmers and herders; as well as cultural, societal, and economic needs, including hunting, status, and ceremonial use.

Although craft production is regulated in Nigeria, the vast majority of craft producers lack authorization to make weapons and are aware of the illegality of their business.

Both craft producers and law enforcement agents consider that better regulation and implementation of the law could help Nigeria in the fight against the illicit proliferation of small arms.

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Keywords: Craft production Improvised weapons