In December 2012, the mayor of Mexico City, Dr. Miguel Angel Mancera Espinosa, launched the "For your Family, Voluntary Disarmament" program, which aims to prevent crime and to tackle urban violence caused by the use of firearms in the city. This program seeks to raise awareness among the population regarding the risks of owning guns and ammunition. It consists of an exchange of weapons for economic assistance, domestic appliances, or computer material. Furthermore, the program also contemplates the exchange of toy weapons (bows and arrows, toy guns and rifles, etc.) for educational toys. This exchange is voluntary, the anonymity of those handing over the weapons is guaranteed, and the exchange is held in the atrium of a church, which is seen by the population as neutral territory and therefore increases trust in the operation, thanks to an agreement with the church authorities.
The success of this program is based on a painstaking effort to raise public awareness, conducted by the brigades of the Mexico City Government's Social Development Secretariat, which visit homes door to door in neighborhoods with high crime rates. These brigades inform and invite the population (especially mothers and heads of households) to hand over the weapons owned by any of their friends, relatives, and acquaintances. The strength of this program resides in the close cooperation established between government and society, as well as in the involvement of different participants: the city government, the borough administrations (territorial subdivisions of the Federal District), Mexico's federal government (through the National Defense Secretariat), the private sector (which donated goods for the exchange), the Catholic Church, and the general population.
Thanks to the “For your Family, Voluntary Disarmament” program, over 4,000 weapons have been taken off the streets of Mexico City in just a few months. This figure stands in sharp contrast to the 5,000 weapons gathered over four years, from 2008 to 2011. With this program, the government of Mexico City favors the prevention of crime by means of agreements, citizen education, and the construction of a culture of peace among its citizens.
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