7,000 Firearms Destroyed In Chile
By Dialogo November 30, 2009More than 7,000 weapons that were formerly in the hands of the Chilean public were melted down in Santiago in an operation organized by the Chilean government with the aim of reducing the use of such items. Of the 7,281 weapons melted down, 3,396 were seized by law enforcement authorities and another 3,885 were voluntarily turned in this year as part of a campaign initiated in 2008 by the government to reduce the number of weapons in the possession of civilians. Defense Minister Francisco Vidal, Interior Minister Edmundo Perez Yoma and Deputy Interior Minister Patricio Rosende witnessed the meltdown procedure carried out at the Gerdau Aza company near Santiago. The weapons will ultimately be converted into bars of steel for use in building infrastructure. Of the total number of weapons destroyed, 4,779 were pistols, 1,804 were rifles and 446 were homemade. With this batch, almost 70,000 weapons have now been destroyed by the authorities since 1990. "The fewer the weapons we have in the hands of civilians and the fewer weapons we have circulating, the fewer possibilities there'll be for them to fall into the hands of criminals," said Perez Yoma. This year, there has been a marked decline in the number of weapons destroyed compared to 2008, when 12,550 were melted down. Rosende attributed the decline to the wearing off of the initial push in the campaign, which began last year. "The weapons that have been destroyed today mean fewer deaths on our streets. It means fewer crimes being committed because having a weapon in the family's hands in Chile is a public danger more than a security measure," said Rosende, who emphasized that this has been the year when the most weapons have been turned in voluntarily.