A Farewell to Arms

Gun sales and stockpiles may be booming worldwide, but in Colombia an unusual ceremony saw the destruction of 13,778 handguns, machine guns, rifles and mortars. The weapons were melted down as part of International Gun Destruction Day, and will be used to make school chairs and a memorial for victims of gun violence there. According to Inter Press Service, Colombia has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, and 70 percent of those murders were committed with mostly illegal firearms in 2005. Most of the guns destroyed were taken from gangsters and militias, officials said — while the rest were legally owned, and turned in voluntarily by their owners. In addition to Colombia, International Gun Destruction Day was also observed by Ukraine, Sri Lanka and Albania.

Mexico Corruption, U.S. Weapons Deepen Drug War Toll

President Felipe Calderon’s war on drugs will fail unless the United States cracks down on arms sales to drug smugglers, Mexican officials say. Not only do drug cartels get the majority of their weapons from U.S. dealers — they also net between $10 and $30 billion a year in sales to American drug users. That cash buys more arms used to attack Mexican police and politicians, the Associated Press reports. Calderon’s drug fight is also complicated by corrupt officials. Last week, an American jury convicted Ricardo Gonzalez Camacho, a Mexican police officer, of smuggling 55 pounds of cocaine into the United States.