• Transforming attitudes towards the tools of violence: The Arms Exchange Programme in Mendoza, Argentina

      Godnick, William H. (2001)
      In late December 2000 the Ministry of Justice and Security of the Argentine province of Mendoza completed the first phase of the programme Canje de Armas por Mejores Condiciones de Vida, hereafter referred to as the Arms Exchange Programme, as part of a multi-faceted long-term approach to transform the public security climate. Two hundred eighty five pistols, revolvers and shotguns were voluntarily turned in by citizens for destruction in exchange for vouchers for foodstuffs and tickets to football games with values ranging from US $50 to $100. Participants were able to make contact with the programme organisers through a toll-free telephone line. Prior to the firearm turn-in component a public education effort was coordinated in the school system that culminated in a violent toy turn-in and destruction drive that brought in thousands of toy guns and video games for public destruction and incorporation into displays of art. The overwhelmingly positive response to the first phase of the programme inspired organisers to launch a second phase of weapons collection on 10 April 2001 including sectors of the province outside the Greater Mendoza area. Although the second phase was scheduled to end on 24 April 2001 it had to be extended on two separate occasions in response to enthusiastic requests from several localities that were not originally scheduled to host the Arms Exchange Programme. The second phase, which lasted six weeks, collected a total of 2,281 weapons and 6,547 rounds of ammunition, bringing in a total of 2,566 weapons and 8,262 rounds of ammunition for both phases combined. Arguably, the town of San Rafael, where 809 revolvers, pistols, shotguns and rifles were turned in over the course of four days, in the southern section of Mendoza province, saw more weapons turned in per capita than any other programme in the world to date.