Low-income familes in the crime-wracked Mexico City borough of Iztapalapa decided this year to trade in their old rifles, handguns and shotguns for laptop computers, bicycles, food or money through a government program.
Seniors, young people, housewives and even children have lined up at the exchange center, located in the “Señor de la Cuevita” (Our Lord of the Holy Sepulchre) Sanctuary to received the benefits of the program dubbed “For Your Family, Voluntary Disarmament.”
The campaign is promoted by municipal authorities, the Catholic Church and the Mexican army for the purpose of preventing another tragedy like the one that took place here last month.
Hendrick Cuacuas, 10, died Nov. 2 when a stray bullet shot through the roof of a movie theater in Iztapalapa hit him in the head.
“I’m here because I want a tablet for my daughters,” housewife Soledad Nuñez told Efe. “It’s bound to be of more use to us than having that thing (a homemade handgun), which can only do harm and could make problems for me if the cops find out I have it.”
Since the program was launched on Monday, a total of 220 weapons have been exchanged.
“We found this weapon (a carbine) in my father’s bedroom,” Gabriel Cortes, another Iztapalapa resident, told Efe.
“I’m grateful for this program and that’s why I’m bringing it in, to get rid of the kind of weapon that can do us a lot of harm, and after what happened in the United States we’re even more traumatized,” she said, referring to the massacre on Dec. 14 at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, where 27 people were gunned down, most of them children.