A threat to the safety of citizens in any country, the criminal misuse of firearms also poses a wider threat to global security, peace, stability and development. Firearms are easy to conceal and transport, and offer lucrative profits to criminals trafficking in illicit small arms and light weapons. No country is unaffected by firearms violence.
Each year, firearms are used in more than 245,000 homicides worldwide (excluding war-torn countries), although this is only a small percentage of all crimes committed with firearms, which are widely used to threaten and support other criminal acts.
Supporting crime prevention and response
INTERPOL offers powerful tools which can help member countries to collect and analyse more effectively the information that can be obtained from inside and outside the weapon, in order to prevent and solve firearm-related crime.
- The INTERPOL Firearms Reference Table (IFRT) is an interactive online tool that provides a standardized methodology to identify and describe firearms, and enables an investigator to obtain or verify the details of a firearm — including the make, model, calibre and serial number. The IFRT contains more than 250,000 firearm references and more than 57,000 firearm images, as well as extensive information on firearm markings. The proper identification and description of a specific firearm is a fundamental aspect of a firearm-related crime investigation, and significantly increases the chances of acquiring firearm ownership history through an international trace request.
- The INTERPOL Ballistic Information Network (IBIN) provides a global platform for the centralized collection, storage and cross-comparison of ballistics imaging, as well as for analysis and reporting. Just as fingerprint data can link crimes and criminals across international borders, so too can the international sharing of ballistic data. Ballistic information sharing can assist law enforcement agencies to find connections between separate crimes that may otherwise go undetected. IBIN is the first and only large-scale international ballistic data sharing network.
Facilitating information exchange
National, regional and international actions to identify and eradicate firearm-related crime rely upon the prompt and timely communication of relevant information by law enforcement agencies and, in particular, effective international firearm tracing. These activities require close cooperation between a broad range of organizations such as police, customs, border protection agencies and regulatory services.
The INTERPOL Illicit Firearms Records and tracing Management System (iARMS) is an information technology application which facilitates information exchange and cooperation between law enforcement agencies on firearm-related crime. iARMS enables users to:
- Report and/or query lost, stolen, trafficked and smuggled firearms;
- Submit and/or respond to, as well as monitor the progress on, international firearm trace requests;
- Generate statistical reports on national data.
Analysing crime data
Criminal intelligence analysis is recognized by the law enforcement community as a valuable tool that can support operational police activities and provide timely warning of threats. INTERPOL develops and disseminates research and analysis on firearm-related crime trends and techniques, as well as intelligence on firearm trafficking routes and methods.
International alert system
INTERPOL’s unique system of notices is used to alert member countries to firearm-related threats. An Orange Notice can be issued to warn police, public entities and other international organizations about potential threats posed by disguised firearms which they may not detect under normal circumstances.
A Purple Notice can be issued to share information about specific firearms, their parts and related objects, as well as modi operandi for firearm-related crime including firearm trafficking.
Training and capacity building
INTERPOL offers a variety of capacity building initiatives that deal with the specialized crime area of firearms. The aim is to equip police and their law enforcement partners with the knowledge, skills and best practices to meet today's firearm crime challenges. The courses focus on international cooperation in all forms, including through the use of INTERPOL tools and services.
From a basic online course on firearms identification to intensive classroom-based courses on detecting and combating firearm-related crime, INTERPOL provides a range of learning opportunities. INTERPOL takes an inter-agency approach, and provides intercultural, bilingual training as appropriate.
- UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) > Conventional Arms
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
- World Customs Organization > Firearms Enforcement and Compliance
- World Health Organization > Small arms and health
- Small Arms Survey
- Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development