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Up in arms: the gun seller

Mahir Abu Goukh
How weapons influence everyday life: Accounts of relationships between guns and their owners — the gun seller.
9.12.2014  |  Khartoum

For clients in search of weapons large and small, Sudan offers a range of possibilities. Many of the weapons on sale are subject to government regulation, a black market still flourishes in the city as well as the country’s east, offering just about everything except tanks and combat aircraft. Most gun sellers, even those who work in compliance with local laws, avoid questions from the media. But after some prying, Z., who works at a gun shop in Khartoum, detailed the rules of legal trade.

Some people, however, are automatically granted licenses to carry, like people from the forces, officers and judges.”
To legally buy a gun, a customer needs to be over 30 years old and have a valid license, which the seller can help obtain. The license specifies the firearm’s calibre and type,” Z. says. They check the individual doesn’t have a criminal record... Some people, however, are automatically granted licenses to carry, like people from the forces, officers and judges.”

Licensed shops offer a limited range of weapons, including sonic or fire guns and rifles, in line with the Arms and Ammunition Act. Sonic guns make a loud noise and are mostly used at weddings or other events.

According to Z., most firearms are Chinese, Turkish or Russian. He says the market used to be dominated by European weapons but that supply has dried up because of the EU’s embargo following the outbreak of violence in Darfur.

These days, only used European firearms are available. Since 2008, hand guns have been largely imported from China. They are good quality and have reasonable prices,” Z. says.

Prices for guns depend where they were made, with Russian weapons costing more than their Turkish and Chinese counterparts. The cost also depends on calibre, with a 6 mm gun costing around 2,000 Sudanese pounds (US$ 350) compared to 3,000 Sudanese pounds (US$ 520) for a 7 mm Chinese gun and 8,000 Sudanese pounds (US$ 1,400) for a similar calibre Russian-made weapon.

Prices also vary among the automatic rifles that hold more than five bullets. Automatic Russian-made rifles cost more than 9,000 Sudanese pounds (US$ 1,570), while the European equivalent costs up to 15,000 Sudanese pounds (US$ 2,600). Generally, only individuals who work or own estates in remote locations may obtain licenses for such weapons.

Despite such regulations, the illegal arms trade remains worrisome for the country’s future security. Most of its clients are either members of criminal gangs or political groupings opposed to regional governments. If left unregulated, the illicit trade could increase Sudan’s role as a transit country for illegal arms, drawing it further into armed conflicts in neighbouring countries and jeopardising the lives of civilians.