Less guns, less violence. Argentina moves forward in firearms destruction

16 May, 2012 - Less guns, less violence. In Argentina, a national program has led to the destruction of firearms in civilian hands. The surrender of firearms is voluntary and in return financial incentives are offered. The aim is to reduce number of weapons in civilian hands and contribute in building a less violent society. According to official data, 65% of intentional homicides in Argentina result from interpersonal conflicts in which one party has a gun.
When it comes to self-defense, the problem lies elsewhere. "90% of the time when a citizen tries to defend himself wielding a weapon, the one who is hurt is the assaulted and not the assailant, who always has more conviction to shoot and more expertise in doing it," said Minister of Justice and Human Rights of Argentina, Julio Alak.

As part of the National Voluntary Surrender of Firearms Program, on 5 May, the National Registry of Weapons and Explosives of Argentina, RENAR, proceeded to the destruction of 10,745 firearms in the city of Campana, Buenos Aires. "The destruction process is only one phase of a policy whose central axis is based on prevention, which is effective at the time of delivery, but actually began in the phase of education," said Matthias Molle, head of RENAR.

The destruction of firearms in Argentina has been adopted as State policy to reduce gun violence in the country. Since the program was launched in 2007, 160,531 weapons have been taken out of circulation in Argentina.

The surrender of firearms and ammunition is voluntary and anonymous and in exchange people receive a financial incentive that varies between $ 45 and $ 140, depending on the type and caliber of weapon surrendered.

The method used for destruction takes place in two stages: first, the crushing of weapons, and then melting them using a high temperature foundry furnace.

All program activities are closely observed by the Argentinean Network for Disarmament (Red Argentina para el Desarme) and relatives of victims who support the initiative. "We support this policy because we want to strongly contribute to building a peaceful society without arms. As a civil entity and a permanent member of the Argentinean Network for Disarmament, we participate to ensure all those who surrendered their weapons, that they are effectively destroyed," said Adrian Marcenac, from the Alfredo Marcenac Foundation.

The National Voluntary Surrender of Firearms Program in Argentina is inserted in a global context of implementation of the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The Protocol, in Article 6, calls upon Member States to adopt, in accordance with domestic laws, the necessary measures to prevent firearms, their parts, components and ammunition from falling into the hands of unauthorized persons by seizing and destroying them.

The aim is to disarm civilian population and strengthen the fight against arms trafficking, avoiding its deviation toward organized crime.

Currently, UNODC implements the project "The fight against transnational trafficking of firearms through the application of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol on Firearms" in several countries of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa.

Financed by the European Union, the project aims at providing support to Member States in preventing and combating transnational trafficking of firearms through the ratification and implementation of the protocol on firearms; supporting the establishment of law and effective national registration procedures and arms control; promoting judicial cooperation for the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of trafficking of firearms and related crimes; as well as increasing awareness and knowledge about transnational firearm trafficking and crime; and addressing urban violence and its links to transnational organized crime.

With information from the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of Argentina

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