New website arms the world with true facts on guns

16 June 2010

Enter the words 'gun control' into the Google search engine and you elicit more than 37 million entries in 0.34 seconds. Enter 'gun control facts' and 1.5 million website options appear.

Yet despite this abundance of web material, accurate information on gun usage and gun control is actually difficult to find on the World Wide Web, according to University of Sydney Adjunct Associate Professor Philip Alpers.

"The web is absolutely littered with opinions, not facts about gun control," says A/Professor Alpers, who has been researching the true state of gun control globally for the past 15 years. "Website content is very polarised, very heated, and it can be really difficult for people to navigate which sites are run by vested interests and which are truly trying to present the whole picture."

Determined to create a resource that would allow people to be informed by academic, peer-reviewed research on guns and guns facts, A/Professor Alpers has spent the past two years working on a special project for the United Nations - creating a website which tells the whole picture, globally.

His work - the new Global Small Arms and Armed Violence Web Knowledge Base - is being launched and demonstrated in New York this week by Australia's Ambassador to the United Nations Gary Quinlan, as part of a week-long conference for the UN Small Arms and Light Weapons Programme of Action.

Supported by the University of Sydney's School of Public Health and part-funded by the Australian Government, the web knowledge base is a website which allows users to search for small arms-related data in 250 jurisdictions world-wide.

The type of information available through the website includes clause by clause parsing of firearms legislation; import/export restrictions; and public health interventions in place such as gun owner licensing, firearm registration, background checks, age limits, and domestic violence provisions.

"The aim of the website is to inform, all the information is referenced and sourced and we don't fill the site with our own opinions," says A/Professor Alpers. "It is by far the most comprehensive single web resource the UN has had to date to support its small arms initiative and an important step towards arming countries with the information needed to assess their gun and gun control situations."

A/Professor Alpers said he hopes the website helps anybody worldwide wanting to learn the facts about small weapons use globally, from diplomats and government officials to journalists to students and researchers.

"What has been created is a one-stop shop for guns-related information, all information is sourced so you can trust it, and I hope people can look at the facts and then make up their own minds."

See the website now.

Media enquiries: Sarah Stock, 0419 278 715,