Blue Skies and Dark Clouds: Kazakhstan and Small Arms (Occasional Paper 29)

Nicolas Florquin, Dauren Aben, and Takhmina Karimova
Occasional Paper

Unlike some of its Central Asian neighbours, Kazakhstan has been spared civil war and ethnic strife, earning it the reputation of being a pillar of stability in an otherwise volatile region. The country also has a relatively comprehensive set of measures in place to regulate civilian acquisition and possession of small arms, and is an active participant in international small arms processes. Yet several incidents of armed violence with extremist and terrorist undertones that took place in 2011 suggest the country is not immune to the misuse of firearms.

Based on original household survey and focus group research, Blue Skies and Dark Clouds: Kazakhstan and Small Arms documents levels of small arms availability in the country, explores the impact of firearms on crime and security, and discusses government initiatives to address small arms issues.

The study finds that:

  • Civilians in Kazakhstan owned an estimated 190,000 to 225,000 firearms in 2010, which translates into a low per capita rate by international standards.
  • Although the country’s homicide rate has decreased significantly since the 1990s, it remained above the world average, at more than 8 per 100,000, in 2010.
  • -Kazakhstan’s overall positive security outlook is clouded by an increase in crime rates since 2010.
  • Kazakh authorities report having collected and seized more than 60,000 firearms from civilians between 2003 and 2009.
  • The Ministry of Defence reported the destruction of more than 1.1 million rounds of surplus conventional ammunition between 2003 and 2009 (out of a declared total of 2.5 million).
  • Kazakhstan has been disproportionately affected by unplanned explosions at munitions sites, with six major incidents known to have occurred since 2001.

Also available in KAZAKH and RUSSIAN

See also the Executive Summary (also available in KAZAKH and RUSSIAN)

Have your say about Small Arms Survey publications and products: take 5 minutes to fill out our questionnaire.