x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Farewell to arms

When people who are serious about creating a safe and stable future for themselves and their families prefer gadgets over guns, it must surely be a positive sign.

When two tanks rolled into Martyrs Square in Tripoli, Libya on Saturday, there was no cause for concern; the owners were merely surrendering them to the national army. The surrender of weapons was a direct response to the September 11 killing of US ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others in Benghazi, and the popular movement to expel militia members from that city.

Officials said more than 800 people in Benghazi turned in about 600 different types of arms, including assault rifles, anti-aircraft guns and rocket launchers. There were also collections of weapons in Zintan and Yefren.

One man, Moussa Omr, explained to the Associated Press: "When I saw the announcement on television, I came to Benghazi with my wife and son to hand over my weapon to the national army because I want to move from the stage of the revolution to state building."

While many people freely gave up their arms, there were also incentives, including the offer of money or employment, a raffle to win a new car and free iPads. When people who are serious about creating a safe and stable future for themselves and their families prefer gadgets over guns, it must surely be a positive sign.