With all due respect to Glock, we think of guns as an American phenomenon, from the origins of the first gun factory at Springfield Armory in 1777, up to now when Americans own more than one-third of all the small arms existing in the world today. If guns aren’t the best example of American ‘exceptionalism’ outside of Coka-Cola, I don’t know what is.
But every once in a while someone somewhere else comes up with a really good idea about what to do with guns, and in this case the idea came out of Sweden last year. The outfit who came up with this innovation is a relief and support organization called IM Swedish Development Partner, which is tied to a Swiss-based NGO called Humanium, which is connected to a United Nations sustainable development program which does relief and development work throughout the globe. I know it’s a mouthful, but if you want to see what this project’s all about, just click here or continue reading below.
Basically what the program does is go out and collect illegal guns., then melt them down and use the metal for various mechanical and fabricating work in underserved communities; in other words, it’s basically a salvage operation, but in this case the metal which is being salvaged represents illegally-used guns. So they aren’t promoting gun control as a response to gun violence, they are promoting recycling of products whose prior use has resulted in those particular products not being used for the same purpose again.
The outfit which announced this project, IM Swedish Development Partner, took their advertising video to Cannes last year and won the Grand Prize at the 2016 Innovation Grand Prix. And don’t think they were competing against a bunch of slouches, because the runner-up was Google’s Tilt Brush, and prizes also went to agencies representing Apple and the iT Bra which can detect cancer simply by being worn.
Know how many illegal guns have been confiscated in New York City alone since 2013? Try 15,000 bangers, okay? Know how many guns the Chicago cops picked up last year? They took 8,300 guns off the street in 2016 and about 8,000 the previous year. In Baltimore, the total haul last year was around 2,000 guns.
So the bottom line is that every year in the United States, the cops probably recover at least 100,000 guns. And how many of these guns get returned to their ‘rightful’ owners? That’s a pretty easy number to figure out. Like none. Get it? None.
I suspect that a majority of the seized guns are handguns and let’s assume that the average handgun weighs about 2.5 pounds. Now let’s add another half-pound to that number because many of the confiscated guns are long guns which obviously weigh a good deal more. In other words, every year we probably end up with somewhere around what would be 300,000 pounds of metal if these guns were all melted down. How much is all that metal worth? Probably between $2 and $3 a pound, let’s say $2.50 to be safe.
What if we take $600,000 – $700,000 a year and give it away to some small, struggling entrepreneurs who are trying to get to market with a new product, in particular a product that might save some lives? I think that what we could do with that steel is give it to the folks who want to manufacture ‘safe’ guns, you know, the guns which only shoot when the rightful owner puts it in his or her own hands.
I keep hearing that safe guns can’t get to market because nobody wants to put up the cash to move this kind of product out the factory door. But covering the raw material costs might be a good way to start. And the fact that a safe gun might represent a recycled unsafe gun is certainly an added plus, don’t you agree?