Mexico City Swaps Computers for Guns in Amnesty Program

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Mexico City authorities have received over 3,000 firearms in exchange for cash, bicycles, tablet computers and other goods, in new amnesty program aimed at tackling gun crime.

The program, “For your family, voluntarily disarmament” (Por tu familia, desarme voluntario), has been running in three of Mexico City’s 16 districts for the last two months. El Capitalino reports that government officials associated with the program have visited nearly half a million homes in these areas to promote the scheme.

As of February 1, citizens had turned in 2,102 pistols, 694 rifles and 227 grenades. In exchange, the program handed out goods, including 160 bicycles, 788 tablet computers, 93 home appliances and seven laptop computers, as well as food and cash, Milenio reported.

Mexico is the 7th-ranked country in the world for number of privately owned firearms, with Mexican civilians owning an estimated 15.5 million firearms, according to a 2007 report from the Small Arms Survey.

InSight Crime Analysis

Similar cash-for-guns amnesty programs have been running in Brazil since 2004, when the “Disarmament Caravan” traveled across the country. Within one month, the campaign had beaten its original goal of taking 80,000 weapons off the streets in three months. Some 460,000 weapons were handed in between July 2004 and October 2005.

A report cited by the Sou Da Paz institute in Brazil found that gun amnesty programs, as well gun control measures, had a direct correlation with a reduction in murders. The report also stated that these measures impact the illicit firearm market, as they they make arms scarcer and push up the prices of illegal firearms.

In Brazil, however, the amnesty program was launched in conjunction with new, far stricter gun control laws. This sort of integrated policy that is more likely to have an impact than merely swapping weapons for money and goods. Mexico has relatively strict gun control laws, but many are held illegally — only 2.8 million of the estimated 15.5 in civilian hands have been officially registered.

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