Guns on Our Doorstep


tags: Firearms, South-East Asia,

discussion: 0 comments

By Steven Pavlovich

From the March 2015 issue of the APJ.

Editorial Note

The author developed this as a reference article for Australian policeand Customs outlining several categories and topics relating to the developing illicit firearm markets in South East Asia and the identification of ‘workshop’-made firearms manufactured in South East Asia.

Recently there has been a strong resurgence in the development of illicit firearm manufacturing centres in South East Asia producing firearms, firearms parts and ammunition and it has been reported that the number of illicit firearms in South East Asia could easily be in excess of 10million. Porous borders within this region facilitate their distribution.

This article reports on the types of firearms being seized in Australia that have been identified as of South East Asian workshop manufacture with photographs showing parts, manufacturing techniques, materials and components used. This research has also endeavoured to identify the regional styles and types of firearms being illegally workshop-manufactured in South East Asia with descriptions of construction methods and materials used.


It is not the intention of this article to discuss the internal political and social situation of any country in the South East Asian region. I will, however, endeavour to give a brief background so the reader might be aware of the regional circumstances if it relates to the subject at hand.

It is the identification of firearms available within a country or region that will be discussed in detail together with methods of production or manufacture that relate specifically to the illicit firearm trade.

Illicit firearm markets are created for one main purpose; to generate money. This illicit market can be achieved in a number of ways:

1.   Illicit manufacturing of firearms and or components for local sale

2.   Illegal importation

3.   Illegal export

4.   Diversion to local illicit market by theft

5.   Corrupt licensed dealers

6.   Corrupt licensed firearm owners

7.   Legislative anomalies.

It is natural that the ‘flow’ of illegal goods and services within South East Asia moves from the countries having the lowest GDP per capita towards those countries having the highest. A country with greater ability to purchase such goods can be exploited and targeted by criminals working within “illicit firearm markets”.This is not to say that any country is worse than another it is just an indication that within a relatively small group of countries in South East Asia that this is likely be the direction of illicit firearm traffic. There are of course many other factors which come into play such as the long regional land borders between Myanmar and India, or Myanmar and Thailand that may facilitate the land-based trafficking of illicit firearms from known firearm markets (in North East India and beyond) into South East Asia.

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