Nearly 14,000 firearms will be melted down today in Colombia in a ceremonial action highlighting the danger of illegal arms proliferation and to mark International Gun Destruction Day. The molten metal will be used to make school chairs and build a monument in memory of the victims of violence and kidnapping in Colombia, said the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in a press release.

About 77 per cent of the firearms scheduled for destruction are illegal. Of those, 60 per cent were illicitly manufactured, 31 per cent are privately owned and 9 per cent belong to the armed forces.

Organized by UNODC, the Colombian Ministry of Defense and armed forces, and the “Vida Sagrada” program, today’s action is also supported by the National Plant for Metal Work and Manufacture, SIDENAL.

UNODC recently published a report entitled Violence, Crime and Illegal Arms Trafficking in Colombia, which said the country needed to do more to crack down on arms trafficking. The report challenged the perception that Colombia was plagued by indiscriminate violence. Rather, the use of firearms was highly controlled and regulated by criminal gangs, rebels and the Government. Colombia also has one of the highest homicide rates in the world.

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