In April, the Guadalajara Reporter notified its readership of a gun turn-in program which the Mexican Army, in conjunction with state and municipal governments and Mexican NGO SOS, planned to institute in Jalisco.
The stated aim of the program was to reduce gun violence.
Four months after the program’s inception, the rate of gun-related homicides in Jalisco has only increased.
Firearm deaths had already seen an increase in the first trimester of 2017 compared to last year’s, an uptick which prompted the government’s institution of the weapons exchange program at the start of the second trimester.
According to The Forensic Sciences Institute of Jalisco, deaths by firearm registered in this year’s first semester has increased compared with last year by 26 percent.
Weapons were relinquished to officials at Guadalajara’s Plaza Liberacion, Zapopan’s Plaza de las Americas, and at points in Tonala, Tlaquepaque and Tlajomulco. In exchange, those turning in guns received anything from blenders to big-screen televisions, depending on the value of the arms. In addition, they weren’t asked through what channels the weapons had come into their possession.
In spite of the optimism-dampening statistics, Adolfo Caballero, director of SOS, was upbeat about what he sees as the gains made by the program. However, his sunny outlook seemed to be based purely on the quantity of weapons handed in. “We’ve received almost 500 arms, among which are 28 hand grenades. Plus, 3,600 cartridges of various types. It’s been a great success.”
Arturo Villareal Palos, professor of Public Law at the University of Guadalajara, lauded the spirit of the program, but views its achievement as a drop in the ocean.
“I see it as a positive measure, but in reality its impact on security is limited, considering the millions of weapons that exist in the country,” said Palos.