The purpose of this article is to explore the systemic processes which have facilitated universal proliferation and describe some of the impacts these processes have had on particular societies. This has led the author to two sets of observations based on the available empirical and anecdotal evidence. Firstly, the proliferation and use of light weapons and small arms within societies around the world can be seen as symptomatic of deeper problems at within the fabric of these societies. Therefore, to understand the effect of the light weapons equation, it is necessary to place it in the broader context of prevailing political, social and economic trends. Secondly, it is apparent that the availability and use of these weapons affects the pace and direction of societal violence. In areas where structural violence is already severe, the proliferation of light weapons and small arms accelerates prevailing trends of societal dysfunction, political anarchy and the undermining of state authority. it is also apparent that where the overall framework of state authority is not challenged, the proliferation of arms exacerbates deep social problems and widens domestic fissures.