This story makes me physically ill.
Guns melted for peace
ILLEGAL firearms seized by police in Greater Manchester are being turned into symbols of peace.
The weapons have been melted down to create special coins commemorating the victims of gun crime.
Each coin is marked with 55 notches - a poignant tribute to the 55 people killed by gunmen in Greater Manchester over the last eight years.
Firearms confiscated by GMP or handed in during amnesties are normally destroyed.
But anti-violence campaigners have joined forces with Salford University to launch the Guns into Goods scheme, which will see a number of seized weapons smelted and transformed into usable commodities.
The Manchester Peace Coins are the first items to be created as part of the three-year scheme. The coins will be sold to raise cash to help fight crime and also to fund activities to divert youngsters from a life of crime.
An exclusive first edition coin will be auctioned off at a special event at the City of Manchester Stadium on March 8th.
Paul Haywood, a metalwork expert from the university's school of art and design, who has overseen the project, said youngsters who were at risk of drifting into gang culture would be asked to take part in future projects. He said: "With this project we hope to engage with young people from the Manchester metropolitan area who are at greatest risk of becoming involved in gang and gun culture - as victims, witnesses or offenders.
"We want to convert the ideas of young people in the community into creative and original products that can be manufactured from smelted gun metals."
Specialist equipment at the university is used to breakdown and melt the disabled weapons, including smelters capable of reaching fiery temperatures of up to 1,500C.
Erinma Bell, founder of campaign group Carisma, said that as well as equipping youngsters with new skills, the scheme would deliver a symbolic message for peace.
She said: "This is a brand new project and the first to directly target the physical destruction of guns.
"The goal is a sustained campaign of positive work with communities and schools to develop creative opportunities for young people to join in the efforts to raise awareness, counter gun crime and remove guns from the streets."
The proceeds from the sale will pay for a monument to be erected in Manchester's Peace Garden and will also fund further youth activities in the city.