Rising Use by Police Forces Driving Sales of Small Arms and Light Weapons

Small arms and light weapons are a class of weapons used by police forces across the world to control dangerous activities such as drug trafficking, illegal mining and deforestation, and terrorism. Handheld guns such as pistols, shotguns, rifles, and handguns, mines, rocket launchers, anti-tank weapons, grenade launchers, and anti-aircraft weapons are among the weapons comprising the small arms and light weapons industry. These weapons are a key tool for police forces to keep the aforementioned activities in check, since the latter can destabilize the law and order of a region considerably.

According to Transparency Market Research, the global small arms and light weapons market was valued at US$15.7 bn in 2014. Exhibiting a steady 3.80% CAGR from 2015 to 2023, the market’s valuation is expected to rise to US$22.1 bn.

What are the key drivers for the small arms and light weapons market?

One of the prime drivers for the global small arms and light weapons market is the support provided by many nations to police modernization initiatives. Police modernization includes the incorporation of advanced weaponry and technology to keep police forces aligned with the current technological scenario. Several new variants of small arms and light weapons have exhibited booming demand from police forces across the world due to these initiatives, which are likely to remain a key factor aiding the small arms and light weapons industry in the coming years.

The increasing problems with drug trafficking are also a crucial driver for the small arms and light weapons market. In mid-August 2016, the Obama administration announced the allocation of US$17 mn to states considered to be high-activity areas for the drug trade. Cross-border drug trafficking has been a persistent problem in North America, with the firm stance of successive U.S. administrations just about keeping the high-risk activity at bay. Such allocations of funds are likely to be crucial in ensuring the eradication of the illegal drug trade, with small arms and light weapons increasingly coming into the picture thanks to the risk of violence in drug trafficking. 

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The rising instances of terrorism and other violence in urban areas, where tactics such as carpet bombing can’t be used, has also led to a rising demand for small arms and light weapons, which can be used effectively at close quarters. The mounting threat of bombings and other terrorist activities in major urban centers across the world is likely to remain an influential driver for the global small arms and light weapons market in the coming years.

Which are the leading segments of the small arms and light weapons market?

Despite the rising demand for small arms and light weapons from police forces across the world, the military remains the leading consumer of small arms and light weapons. The military sector accounted for around 50% of the global small arms and light weapons market in 2014 and is likely to dominate the market in the coming years due to the widespread adoption of military modernization programs. 

Regionally, Europe is the leading contributor to the small arms and light weapons market, followed by North America. Europe held a share of more than 30% in the global small arms and light weapons market in 2014 due to the proactive initiatives and funding from several European governments in order to combat the growing threat of terrorism.

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