San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Arias Administration Submits Arms Law Reform to Congress

On Monday, Presidency Minister Rodrigo Arias submitted to the Legislative Assembly a proposal to reform the country’s Arms Law. The proposal would prohibit the manufacture of all firearms and components of firearms in Costa Rica.

Arias said last month that expanding the Arms Law has been a goal of the administration of his brother, President Oscar Arias, since the start of his term in May. Oscar Arias is an advocate of disarmament measures on an international level (see separate story) and Vice-President Laura Chinchilla is a longtime advocate of stronger arms prohibitions in Costa Rica.

However, the issue gained new urgency recently after legislators from the Citizen Action Party (PAC) accused the President of allowing foreign companies to lay the foundations for gun factories here.

A Public Health Ministry decree that mentioned the manufacture of illegal arms in an annex containing a list of commercial activities also drew criticism (TT, Sept. 22).

The current Arms Law, approved in 1995, prohibits the manufacture of certain weapons, such as arms of war and machine guns. “Permitted weapons” include nonautomatic pistols and revolvers from 5.6 to 18.5 mm, semiautomatic pistols and revolvers up to 11.53 mm, rifles up to 18.5 mm, and sports and hunting guns.

The administration’s proposal for reform would also make it illegal for minors (under 18) to purchase or use firearms. Now, those 14 or older can use guns for hunting or target practice if accompanied by an adult.

The reforms also aim to establish clearer regulations for the use of firearms by police officers and private security guards; limit to three the number of firearms a person or family can register for protection or sports; and outlaw the possession of firearms in bars or other establishments where alcohol is served, among other measures.


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