Guns swapped for ‘weapons for life’ in Uruguay

A new scheme hopes to reduce crime and improve lives by offering laptops and bikes in exchange for firearms

Members of the public in Uruguay are now able to exchange guns they own for laptops or bikes, thanks to a pioneering new scheme.

Officials hope that the initiative, called Weapons for Life, will help to reduce gun crime as well as improve the lives of former gun owners.

South America’s Uruguay ranks ninth in the world for the number of guns per capita. A survey by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime revealed that the country is home to 1.1m guns, averaging out at 31 guns per 100 people.

The Association for the Fight for Civilian Disarmament (AFCD) has praised the scheme, saying that it hopes it will change attitudes towards guns.

“We are delighted that the ministry is finally taking action on the matter and starting a campaign to discourage gun ownership,” says Gustavo Guidobono, president of the AFCD. “Effecting this change by using computers or bicycles is unprecedented, but it is welcome.”

Alongside the scheme is new legislation toughening up gun laws in the country. Possession of an unregistered weapon will now become a crime, and offenders could be given prison sentences of up to 12 years.

Other trade-in schemes have operated in the United States and Australia, but have offered money instead of possessions.