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Guns Regulations

New Gun Control Law in Costa Rica

Modifications to the gun control law of Costa Rica brings new limitations and stiffer sentences for violations.

The Costa Rica legislature has approved changes to the Costa Rican Gun Control Law (Ley de Armas y Explosivos Ley 7530) to further restrict the use of guns in Costa Rica. In this article, I will review the new changes to the law.

What weapons are prohibited in Costa Rica ?

Article 25 of the Gun Control Law was modified and now includes all of the following in the list of prohibited weapons in Costa Rica.

“Article 25 – Prohibited firearms, ammunition and explosives. Regarding the entry into the national territory, nationalization, manufacturing, tenure, carrying, use and marketing, are firearms, ammunition and explosives prohibited, as well as their parts and components: Article 25 

a) Those that, with a single action of the trigger, fire successively (inburst) more than one round. included are semiautomatic long arms, whose ammunition magazine has a capacity of more than ten shots, except those firearms that use ammunition with ring ignition, as well as short weapons whose ammunition loaders, whether manufactured or adapted, exceed a total capacity of seventeen rounds.

b) Artifacts that fire projectiles or explosive charge, which explode through impact, by proximity to an objective, time device or by the effect of an external force. 

c) All conventional weapons, their parts and components, including the categories of: battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, systems of artillery, war aircraft, warships, missiles and missile launchers, according to the definitions given by the Organization of the United Nations (UN). 

d) Explosive or incendiary devices.

e) Any type of weapon classified as mass destruction and weapons prohibited, all based on international conventions or prohibited by international law, and any device designed for the dispersion of these.

f) High explosives

g) Puncturing, tracer, incendiary and explosive ammunition of any caliber and shot silencers on any firearm.

h) All devices are capable of emitting electromagnetic pulses disabling, causing permanent damage.

i) All devices are capable of emitting sound waves or luminous disabling beams, which cause permanent damage.

j) The firearms contemplated within the prohibited platforms.

What are the penalties for possession of use of an illegal weapon ?

According to Article 89 of the law, the penalty for possession of an illegal weapon is 4-8 years in prison. This applies to anyone who “possesses, acquires, markets, transports, stores, enters into the national territory, nationalizes, exports, hides, fabricates, assembles, transforms, performs national or international brokerage or use of weapons prohibited by this law”.

How can I legally own a gun in Costa Rica ?

In this section, I will review the requirements to legally own a gun in Costa Rica. This does not automatically include the right to “carry” that weapon. That has additional requirements.

Article 24 of the Regulations to the Gun Control Law spells out the requirements to own and register a gun in Costa Rica.

1. Fill out the application online at www.controlpas.go.cr

2. Provide a copy of your identification document

3. Proof of no criminal convictions

4. Provide proof of fingerprinting

5. Pass the psychological exam showing mental fitness

6. Provide all documents related to ownership of the gun

7. Pass the gun handling examination

8. Payment of the application fee

You must have Permanent Residency and a digital signature card to apply for the registration of a weapon in Costa Rica.

What if i own or possess a gun that is not registered ?

If you are found to be in possession of a weapon that is permitted by law but which is not registered with the Department of Weapons and explosive you could be subject to a 3-5 year prison term according to Article 88 of the Law.

What if my weapon is registered but I don’t have a carry permit?

If you are found to be carrying a legally registered weapon but you do not have a carry permit then you could be subject to a 2-4 year prison sentence. If your carry permit has expired you will be subject to a fine of approximately 500,000 (a month Base Salary of Public Employee).

Restriction on the use of ammunition

The new law also places a restriction on the purchase of ammunition. The owner of a registered weapon may only purchase ammunition for that specific weapon.

What if your gun is lost or stolen ?

The new law imposes the affirmative action to report the theft of loss of any firearm. Article 88 TER of the law imposes a duty to any gun owner to report to the OIJ (Criminal Investigation Organism) and the Department of Weapons and Explosives the theft or loss of any weapon.

The owner has five business days (5) to file that report. Failure to file a report when required to do so will result in 10-60 day fine.

Finally, the law has a transition period of six (6 )months to allow the owners of firearms permitted by law and which are not registered to start the registration process without payment of fines and penalties.