CARACAS (Reuters) - Battling with one of the world's highest murder rates, Venezuela on Wednesday crushed more than 30,000 guns seized from the streets during police raids this year.
Policemen used blow-torches to chop up some of shotguns and pistols. They compacted weapons including home-made pistols into a 5 ton block, said Interior Minister Tarek Al Aisammi.
"Here we have weapons captured in operations during 2009," he said on state television. "This act forms part of the disarmament policies that we have been promoting."
With 13,000 murders in 2007, the last time figures were published, violent crime consistently registers as Venezuelans' main concern in opinion polls.
Gun laws are lax in the South American oil exporter. The government estimates there are 6 million firearms circulating among the population of about 28 million. Venezuela's murder rate is about 8 times that of the United States.
Crime has risen under President Hugo Chavez, who has focused on poverty reduction to tackle violence in poor city neighborhoods.
(Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel)