Mexico: Illegal Guns Swapped For Toys And Cash

Sky News25 December 2012
Mexico: Illegal Guns Swapped For Toys And Cash

Illegal guns are being swapped for children's toys and cash in a move aimed at combating increasing violence in Mexico City.

The programme, dubbed For Your Family: Voluntary Disarmament, comes just weeks after a 10-year-old boy was killed by a stray bullet as he sat inside a cinema.

The capital's exchange point for guns is the borough of Iztapalapa.

With nearly two million residents, the area suffers from high levels of youth crime, much of which is related to poverty.

Rodolfo Rivera, the coordinator of the gun buyback programme, said the scheme hopes to stop domestically owned weapons from falling into the hands of children.

"It's a programme principally with the objective of avoiding accidents, avoiding violence against citizens," he explained.

"It is very common that in houses with arms children can take these arms and can cause problems."

Launched on Christmas Eve, many cash-strapped residents handed over their weapons to buy presents.

"It was a good day because now there will be a lot of gifts. It's a good incentive not to have them (guns) at home," said Mexico City resident Vicente Mancino.

Authorities have promised that those handing over weapons will remain anonymous and not face prosecution for possessing illicit weapons.

With Mexico in the throes of a brutal drugs war that has killed some 60,000 people since 2006, authorities are also looking to address the culture of violence across the country by inviting children to hand over toy guns for other gifts.

Mexico City's gun buyback programme is expected to run until June 2013.

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