As many as 300 weapons, along with more than $460 million, has been seized in a massive global anti-smuggling operation, Interpol said Tuesday. The result of a four-week operation, which took place largely in Mexico, the France-based international policing body said it may have prevented many of the weapons from eventually falling into the hands of terrorists.
"This operation has taken millions of dollars and hundreds of weapons out of the hands of organized crime and potentially terrorist groups as well," Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock said in a statement. "This was a coordinated and effective response by police and customs to the threats posed by organized crime and terrorism, and clearly shows what can be achieved through close cooperation."
Code named Chimera, the operation included a record seizure of $450 million in the Mexican city of Toluca. In terms of weapons, however, while 300 is certainly significant, the number seized is just a small fraction of the amount of guns in circulation across the globe.
There are now nearly a billion firearms in the world, roughly one for every seven people, and close to 75 percent of those are thought to be in the hands of civilians. Those numbers could be even higher given the difficulty of obtaining accurate data on unregistered weapons.
The United States plays a big part in those startling numbers. As of 2007, there were an estimated 294 million firearms in the U.S, by far the most of all countries, with 106 million handguns, 105 million rifles and 83 million shotguns, according to a 2012 Congressional Research Service Report. That equates to 112.6 guns for every 100 residents.
And, despite — or because of — high-profile gun massacres, that number has sky-rocketed in recent years. In 2013, the year after the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre, the U.S. produced close to 11 million guns, more than twice as many as in 2010. There are now more than twice as many guns per capita in the U.S. than there were in 1968.
In terms of guns per capita, there is a big gap before the next country on the list — Serbia with 75.6 per 100 residents. Following that is war-torn Yemen with 54.8, according to data from GunPolicy.org. In comparison, Japan, which also has one of the world’s lowest murder rates, has just 0.6 firearms per 100 people.