Santiago, Nov 11 (EFE).- The Chilean government on Thursday staged its yearly firearms destruction event at which it rendered unusable some 13,600 guns that were in the custody of the security forces after having been seized in various operations or turned in voluntarily by the public.
The ongoing program is aimed at “reducing the circulation of weapons in the hands of criminals” and ensuring public safety, President Sebastian Piñera said.
“The fight against organized crime, crime, violence, drug trafficking and terrorism has always existed and we must use all the instruments of the state to (carry it out),” he said.
Pistols, shotguns, revolvers and rifles, among other weaponry, were removed from circulation either by order of the judiciary or by being voluntarily turned in, after which a two-stage process to render them unusable is carried out.
First, the weapons are made unusable by cutting off the barrels of long guns or crushing smaller guns, and then later they are completely destroyed by smashing them in a hydraulic press and then melting them down.
The president took advantage of the event to issue a call to the Attorney General’s Office, to Chilean judges and to the police to make every effort to combat criminality, this at a time when southern Chile is experiencing a wave of violence amid the festering conflict between the Mapuche indigenous people and big forestry companies.
In addition, Piñera urged Parliament to approve a controversial series of laws that “have as their objective improving the intelligence system, (and) combatting drug trafficking, terrorism and organized crime.”
“We must work together to ensure a life of peace and tranquility for our countrymen,” he declared.
Thanks to the weapons destruction program, which has been under way almost without letup since 1990, more than 185,000 firearms have been removed from circulation, according to official figures.