Google has created a visually stunning representation of the global small arms trade as North Americans continue to debate gun control issues in the wake of recent mass shootings in Wisconsin, Colorado and Ontario.

The interactive graphic tracks the small arms and ammunition trade from 1992 and 2010, highlighting exports and imports by country.

According to the graphic, the United States imported nearly $996 million dollars worth of small arms and ammunition in 2010 while exporting more than $606 million.

Canada imported nearly $114 million and exported more than $61 million in munitions that same year.

Google interactive users can zoom in and out of different parts of the globe and follow the lines between various countries to see how their arms trading relationships evolved over the years.

Data can also be isolated to show only civilian or military arms exports and imports.

The interactive was designed by Google’s Creative Lab team in collaboration with the Igarape Institute, a Brazil-based think-tank that focuses on violence prevention, international co-operation and global drug policies.

Igarape says the trade of small arms, such as revolvers, assault rifles and light machine guns, and ammunition represents an $8.5 billion industry. Ammunition represents half of that trade, a statistic that Google says remains “underexplored by policy makers.”

At a summit hosted by Google Ideas last month, Robert Muggah, a research director with Igarape, said civilians control the majority, or 74 per cent, of the small arms and light weapons trade.

“Civilians in Afghanistan, Yemen and the U.S. are among the most heavily armed on the planet,” Muggah said in his presentation.

About 23 per cent of the weapons are in military hands and only about three per cent are controlled by law enforcement.

According to the Google graphic, 60 per cent of violent deaths worldwide are attributed to small arms and light weapons.