Dynamic Determinants of Access to Weapons: Global Evidence

Date01 November 2019
Published date01 November 2019
Subject MatterArticles
Dynamic Determinants
of Access to Weapons:
Global Evidence
Simplice A. Asongu1
Joseph Nnanna2
This study investigates the determinants of and persistence in access to weapons
using a global sample of 163 countries for the period 2010–2015. The empirical
evidence is based on the generalized method of moments. Hysteresis in access
to weapons is consistently more apparent in countries with below-median levels
in access to weapons compared to their counterparts with above-median levels
in access to weapons. The hysteresis hypothesis within this context is the pro-
pensity of past values of access to weapons to influence future values of access
to weapons. Factors that consistently drive access to weapons are: perceptions
of crime, criminality, conflict intensity, political instability, military expenditure,
violent demonstrations and terrorism. The effects of these drivers are contin-
gent on initial levels of access to weapons. Policy recommendations for managing
access to weapons are discussed.
JEL: H56, L64, K42, P50
Access to weapons, global evidence, persistence, arms, security
The purpose of this study is built on three tendencies in policy and academic cir-
cles, notably: (a) the increasing cost of conflicts in the globe, (b) the relevance of
policymakers to have insights into the hysteresis (or persistence) of access to
1 African Governance and Development Institute, Yaoundé, Cameroon.
2 The Development Bank of Nigeria, Maitama, Abuja, Nigeria.
Corresponding author:
Joseph Nnanna, The Development Bank of Nigeria, The Clan Place, Plot 1386A Tigris Crescent,
Maitama, Abuja, Nigeria.
E-mail: jnnanna@devbankng.com
Foreign Trade Review
54(4) 334–354, 2019
© 2019 Indian Institute of
Foreign Trade
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/0015732519874210
Asongu and Nnanna 335
weapons and determinants of such hysteresis and (c) attendant gaps in the litera-
ture. The highlighted points are substantiated in the same chronology.
First, the cost of conflicts and crime is steadily increasing across the world.
This now represents a substantial policy syndrome, not least because as of 2014,
about 13 per cent of the global gross domestic product (GDP) was allocated to
preventing and mitigating the consequences of terrorism and conflicts. This nar-
rative is consistent with the Global Peace Index (GPI, 2016) and Asongu and
Kodila-Tedika (2017). To put this point into more perspective, the corresponding
annual expenditure is equivalent to the GDP of the following countries: the United
Kingdom, Spain, Germany, France, Canada and Brazil. Access to weapons is logi-
cally a fundamental cause of conflicts and crimes for which the substantial pro-
portion of global GDP is devoted to curtailing. In the light of the other global
development concerns (e.g., the post-2015 development agenda), the underlying
expenditure might be better spent in addressing concerns surrounding the achieve-
ment of sustainable development goals.
Second, given the importance of access to weapons in fuelling conflicts and
wars, it is relevant for policy to have insights into factors that drive the persistence
in access to weapons and how such persistence varies across important fundamen-
tals (e.g., income levels and regional proximity). In essence, a critical understand-
ing of these concerns can enlighten policymakers on measures that can be
implemented to prevent, reduce or increase access to weapons, contingent on
policy objectives.
Third, this study is also important because of an apparent gap in the literature.
Accordingly, as far as we have reviewed, the extant literature has not focused on
determinants of and persistence in access to weapons in the world. Accordingly,
the existing literature surrounding the subject matter can be summarized in two
categories, namely on determinants of access to weapons and drivers of the weap-
onry industry. With regard to the latter category, studies have focused on, inter
alia: nuclear proliferation and security guarantees (Bleek & Lorber, 2015), ques-
tioning the incidence of nuclear weapons on conflicts and wars (Bell & Miller,
2015), the relationship between nuclear deployment, non-proliferation and
nuclear strategy (Fuhrmann & Sechser, 2014), investigating the relevance of pos-
sessing nuclear weapons (Suni, 2015) and the importance of weapon law and
assault weapon bans on murder rates (Gius, 2014).
As concerns the former category, the literature has largely articulated, among
others: mitigating access to weapons by individuals who have suicide intensions
(Barber & Miller, 2014), access to firearms by citizens who are victimized by
mental disorders (Pinals et al., 2015), the importance of technological corporation
in the fabrication of nuclear weapons (Brown & Kaplow, 2014), defence signals
and defensive weapons in plants (Maag, Erb, Köllner, & Gershenzon, 2015) and
nexuses between ornaments, the choice of weapons and sex (McCullough, Miller,
& Emlen, 2016).
The theoretical basis for investigating the determinant of access to weapons is
broadly in line with both contemporary and non-contemporary literature on the
hysteresis (or persistence) of (in) economic phenomena. On the contemporary

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