In recent decades attention for firearms has increased significantly. This includes the trade in small arms and light weapons with conflict areas, but the issue of the possession and use of firearms by civilians is also a hotly debated topic in many countries. Firearms are contested as a result of crime, incidents and armed violence but to many people they also signify a hobby, a valuable object or simply a way of protecting oneself.

Belgium is a special country in terms of firearms. In comparison with the Netherlands, for example, the legal possession of firearms in Belgium amounts to a rather significant number. The historically important economic interests of the arms industry show that firearms hold a special place in Belgium. Traditionally our country has always been a leading manufacturer of firearms and is ranked among the world's leading firearms exporters. The biggest player in Belgian firearms manufacturing is Fabriques Nationales in Herstal. The economic impact of firearms, however, entails much more than the production of firearms. Shooting and hunting are also important in this context.

In Belgium, various authorities are involved in the control of firearms. The Weapons Act, which regulates possession and use, is a federal matter but the control of the import and export of firearms, as well as hunting and shooting regulations are a regional competence. The Peace Institute monitors every aspect of the firearms issue, including the domestic legal framework, figures about possession and use, the import and export of firearms, and the impact of small and light weapons on societies.

For publications of the Institute's researchers on illicit firearms trade in journals, click here.


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    Firearms: trade, possession and use



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