Weapons have an intimate relationship with violence – they are tools which multiply human capacity to cause injury. However, the global distribution of weapons does not help to explain the global distribution of violence. High levels of civilian armament are found in some of the most peaceful countries, and conflict initiation occurs in contexts where arms are comparatively scarce. A solution to this apparent paradox can be found by examining weapons acquisition by armed groups operating in the world’s most violent areas; and looking at whether a lack of arms inhibits their capability to carry out their objectives. Armed groups have many potential sources of arms such as trafficking, theft from the state, or donations and so arms may be easily acquired even if are comparatively scarce in the population at large. Arms present in society may not be used to kill, injure, or intimidate if their possessors are not motivated to commit acts of violence.