Conventional Arms Transfers: U.S. Efforts to Control the Availability of Small Arms and Light Weapons

NSIAD-00-141 Published: Jul 18, 2000. Publicly Released: Jul 18, 2000.
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on government to government transfers of U.S. small arms and light weapons, focusing on: (1) U.S. government monitoring and reporting policies regarding small arms and light weapons transfers; (2) the steps the U.S. government is taking at the international level to address the availability of small arms and light weapons; and (3) lessons identified regarding weapon collection programs.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense To more effectively conduct weapon collection programs in the future, the Secretary of Defense should direct that guidance, based on a comprehensive assessment and approach, be developed for implementing weapon collection programs.
Closed – Not Implemented
DOD believes that the risk to U.S. forces in attempting to disarm hostile parties during operations other than war exceeds the utility of any weapons collection program. While situations may arise where participation in weapons collection efforts may prove beneficial to the operational outcome, such efforts are expected to be the exception and should be undertaken with due consideration to force protection, clear rules of engagement and within the mandate of the operation or peace agreement. A state has the sovereign responsibilities of collecting firearms and creating domestic gun control laws. As such, DOD believes that its role in weapons collection during the course of peace and nation building should be limited to providing technical assistance and conducting some destruction operations (supported by non-DOD funding).

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