In Baltimore, trade a gun for a laptop

A new gun buyback program hopes to offer economic opportunities in exchange for guns.

In Baltimore, the gun homicide rate is comparable to the rate in Guatemala. And despite having nearly identical population numbers as Washington, D.C. -- Baltimore's neighbor to the south -- Baltimore had more than double the number of homicides last year.

But one group is trying to fight back against gun violence in Baltimore by offering laptops in exchange for guns.

Digit All Systems, a local nonprofit, and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice teamed up for the “Stop Shooting, Start Coding” program that, Fast Company reports, offered gun owners the opportunity to trade in a gun for a Dell laptop and IT classes.

[The program] aims to take guns off the street at the same time that it provides computer certification courses for community members who do not have access to this type of training. The hope is that people who take the courses will have more marketable skills and opportunities for a wider variety of jobs.

Around 50 guns were collected at a recent event.

The idea of a gun buyback program is nothing new. They have happened across the United States for years and in other countries from Australia to Brazil. Earlier this year, Uruguay had a similar program as the one in Baltimore, trading a gun for a bike or laptop . What makes a program like the ones in Baltimore and Uruguay unique from traditional gun buyback programs is that instead of cash they offer useful tools.

While you probably won't see major crime reduction statistics because 50 fewer guns are on the street, that laptop could turn into a job in the future, a gun can't. And that's a step in the right direction. That's the hope anyway.

Read more: Fast Company, Baltimore Brew

Photo: Flickr/Jami3.org

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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