26 August 2013 Last updated at 19:01 ET Help
In 2011 the US exported more than $800m (£513m) in small arms and ammunition and imported $1.2bn. More than a tenth of those imports came from Brazil, a country that has quickly become the biggest player in the Southern hemisphere, exporting $330m worth in 2011.
These kind of numbers and connections are easily accessible through a website called Mad (Mapping Arms Data). In conjunction with the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and Google Ideas, the Igarape Institute collected data from 73,000 records of the export and import of small arms, light weapons and ammunition from more than 262 states and territories for the decade ending in 2011.
Robert Muggah, the research director at Igarape, says the online tool – and its availability on the internet – has influenced the debate on the global arms trade.
“It’s fundamental that we start thinking about ways of digitising the research that we do as think tanks, as research institutes, as advocacy organisations,” Mr Muggah told the BBC at the Igarape Institute in Rio de Janeiro.
Produced by the BBC’s Franz Strasser.
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