Arms Risk: The Role of Female Political Representation

Published date01 June 2024
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1177/10575677231166750
AuthorCassandra E. DiRienzo,Jayoti Das
Date01 June 2024
Subject MatterOriginal Articles
Arms Risk: The Role of Female
Political Representation
Cassandra E. DiRienzo
1
and Jayoti Das
1
Abstract
There are approximately one billion small arms and light weapons (SALW)rif‌les, pistols, and light
machine gunscirculating throughout the globe, many of which are in the wrong handsmeaning
that they are in the possession of criminals, terrorists, and/or extremists. We hypothesize that
greater female political representation has both a direct and an indirect effect on arms risk, or
the risk that SALW fall into the wrong hands.We contend that greater female political represen-
tation directly reduces arms risk as female politicians are more likely to support SALW regulation.
Further, greater female political representation indirectly effects arms risk by mitigating conditions
necessary for the illicit trade of SALW. Using a causal mediation analysis and a cross-country dataset,
we offer empirical evidence that greater female political representation has both a direct and indi-
rect effect in reducing a countrys arms risk.
Keywords
arms risk, SALW, female political representation, shadow economy
Introduction
Currently, there are approximately one billion small arms and light weapons (SALW)rif‌les,
pistols, and light machine gunscirculating throughout the globe (United Nations, 2020). The
use of SALW, whether in conf‌lict or non-conf‌lict situations, is prevalent from the Americas to
Africa to Southern Europe (United Nations, 2020). SALW are mass produced and are exceedingly
popular due to their ease of use, portability, durability, and accessibility (Adewoyin & David, 2019;
Choudhury, n.d.; Oghuvbu, 2020). The United States (U.S.) is the largest mass producer of SALW
and is the largest global exporter of these weapons by a signif‌icant margin (CATO Institute, 2022;
Hartung, 2022). SALW often circulate through underground channels and too frequently are used as
tools to oppress and terrorize (Boivin, 2005; Choudhury, n.d.; United Nations, 2020). The Council on
Foreign Relations (2013) estimates that the illegal traff‌icking of these weapons in shadow economies
generates a staggering one billion dollars on an annual basis. In the hands of criminals, terrorists, and
extremists, SALW are used to fuel armed conf‌licts, transnational organized crime, and terrorism in
addition to controlling populations, inf‌luencing politics, exacerbating regional instability, and
1
Economics, Elon University, Elon, NC, USA
Corresponding Author:
Cassandra E. DiRienzo, Economics, Elon University, Elon, NC, USA.
Email: cdirienzo@elon.edu
Original Article
International Criminal Justice Review
2024, Vol. 34(2) 101-115
© 2023 Georgia State University
Article reuse guidelines:
sagepub.com/journals-permissions
DOI: 10.1177/10575677231166750
journals.sagepub.com/home/icj

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