The Belgian police collected over 22.000 firearms and decided to make something useful out of them by casting them back into usable metal.
After the trial, the weapons were turned into 60 tons of recycled steel.
Where did all these firearms come from?
About half of the guns were handed over by owners from all over the country, many of them finding them at home as an inheritance, and they no longer wanted them. The other half were old guns used by the police.
The weapons were melted over three days by steel giant ArcelorMittal at its plant in Ghent. This is the third time that the Belgian government and the steel company have collaborated to melt firearms.
"The result is impressive: 22.457 firearms have disappeared from our society," he said in a release Carina van Cauter, governor of the province of East Flanders. "It is obviously good for the safety of our citizens that these weapons are no longer in use."
Because it is a great choice
Several studies show that Van Cauter is right: the fewer weapons there are, the safer people are. The exact opposite of many Americans' idea of a safer society when armed.
A famous study from the late 80s and 90s by Arthur Kellermann looked at cases of 444 people who had been murdered in their homes.A gun in the house was associated with an almost triple increase in the likelihood of someone being killed. from a family member or close acquaintance. Over 30 subsequent studies confirmed the results.
Weapons: the less, the better
There is very consistent data to support the claim that access to firearms is associated with an increased risk of firearm-related death and injury.
One of the reasons that owning a gun makes people less safe is that it increases the chances of a situation getting worse. "The fact that you have a gun can mean that you do things you shouldn't do: take risks that you shouldn't otherwise; go to places where it's not really safe, but you feel safe," he says. David Hemenway , director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.
Thus the added risk of owning a firearm can negate the positive benefits of self-defense.
Belgium is leading the way
Belgium hosts restrictive gun laws. The country prohibits fully automatic weapons and only allows them in certain situations. People can only own guns if they get express permission from the government. The only weapons not limited by the state are rifles.
A Censis report estimates that in Italy there are between 4 and 10 million weapons, and more than 4.5 million Italians have a weapon at hand. The report assumes a scenario in which Italy adopts a model of "self-defense" (according to the polls, by now 39% of Italians are open to the matter). Annual gun deaths would increase from the current 150 to 2700.
It is estimated that only 5% of Belgian citizens own a weapon. The rate of homicides caused by firearms in the country is 0,7 per 100.000 deathsTo make a comparison, in the US, the average rate is 4,4 deaths from murder by firearms per 100.000 people.
There are approximately 400 million firearms in the United States.