Human Effort

191: Humanium


Every year at least 500,000 people are killed by firearms, making small arms true “weapons of mass destruction”.


Recycling weapons for peaceful uses.

And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plow shares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. -Isaiah 2:4

Since 2006, Luis Alberto Paredes of Bogota, one of Colombia’s top musical instrument makers, has fashioned “escopetarras” (Spanish) shotgun into electric guitars from decommissioned Kalashnikov AK-47 rifles once used by fighters caught up in the country’s lingering guerilla conflict.

He was inspired by local musician Cesar Lopez who says the idea came to him after the 2003 rebel car bombing of a Bogota social club that killed 36 people. Facing a soldier with a rifle outside the wrecked club, the musician noted the similarities between the weapon and his own guitar.

As part of a United Nations program to promote peace, Paredes receives the decommissioned rifles with the working parts welded together for safety.

Each year since 1994 thousands of handguns, rifles and automatic weapons, many of which were obtained by County Sheriff’s Department during criminal investigations and probation seizures, have been melted down at Gerdau Steel Mill in Rancho Cucamonga, about 37 mi. (60 km) east of Downtown Los Angeles. The resulting seismic rebar is then used to build highways and bridges.

In 2016, Peter Brune of international aid organization IM Swedish Development Partner introduced a metal made from destructed illegal firearms and available for commercial mass-production: Humanium Metal (Hu).

The first weapons destruction program dedicated to Humanium Metal by IM involving the melting 1825 illegal firearms. was held in November 2016 in El Salvador.

Working closely with the Salvadoran authorities, IM produced 110,000 lbs (50,000 kg.) of “Peace Metal”:  Humanium. IM has since then worked closely with five Swedish brands to use Humanium in their products, including a wristwatch by Triwa and headphones by Yevo.

A second destruction program took place in Guatemala in early 2018, with Brazil and Colombia to follow. Humanium 316 SL Stainless Steel Powder has been developed for use in 3-D Printing. Artist Frank To of Falkirk, Scotland is using Hu alloy in his sculptures.

All products made with Humanium go towards funding for victims and projects aiming to rebuild conflict-torn societies. From November 2019, UNODA’s Department of Disarmament gave Humanium Metal a permanent stand in its permanent disarmament exhibition, visited by over 250,000 people each year at the UN headquarters in New York. (

What you can do: Visit and purchase a stylish product made from destructed firearms.

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