Uruguay Amnesty: Guns for Bicycles and Laptops

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Uruguay’s politicians launch an “arms for amnesty” initiative for those willing to trade their guns for bicycles and laptops. There are about 1 million civilian owned firearms in Uruguay, according to the president of the Association for the Fight for Civilian Disarmament, Gustavo Guidobono. The new initiative goal is to reduce crime and improve lives by offering laptops and bikes in exchange for unregistered firearms. According to the South American nation’s government, the country is awash with unregistered guns. Gustavo Guidobono says “Uruguay is the most armed country in South America by a long way and is in the top 10 places in the world of arms per person.”

Of the 3.3 million citizens, there were around 1 million firearms in civilian hands. Very few of those, he claimed, were actually in the hands of private security firms, collectors, or sportsmen. He added; “It is the .38-caliber revolvers and pistols that people mainly buy in the armories for their personal defense.” South America’s Uruguay ranks ninth in the world for the number of guns per capita. A survey by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime revealed that the country is home to 1.1m guns, averaging out at 31 guns per 100 people. The Interior Ministry stated, “The campaign proposes an exchange; the citizens hand over the firearm and receive another one in exchange, (but this is) an arm for life.”
Officials hope that the initiative, called Weapons for Life, will help to reduce gun crime as well as improve the lives of former gun owners. El Observador Spokesman Fernando Gil said: “It is these same firearms that, due to being bought or sold, can end up in the hands of criminals.” The initiative will be launched in February or March, alongside the approval of a new law where possession of unregistered weapons become a crime. Gil added that the campaign aimed to “disarm society, on the way to a more harmonious co-existence, where differences are resolved through dialogue and negotiation.”
The move, which will also make sentences for illegal possession of guns more severe, comes as the government revealed that one in three of its citizens were armed. Citizens will have six months to hand over their weapons, or to have their guns officially registered. Those who fail to do so will face prison sentences for up to 12 years, and gun owners involved in organized crime have been told they will be locked up for longer. The Association for the Fight for Civilian Disarmament (AFCD) has praised the initiative, saying that it hopes it will change attitudes towards guns. “We are delighted that the ministry is finally taking action on the matter and starting a campaign to discourage gun ownership,” says Gustavo Guidobono, “effecting this change by using computers or bicycles is unprecedented, but it is welcome.”
– Jennifer Gadarowski

Sources: Positive News, NY Daily
Photo: Positive News, Archivial Impulse

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