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Armed violence prevention, gun control laws and the small arms trade:

Colombia — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law

StockpilesGun Numbers

Civilian Guns

Number of Privately Owned Firearms

The estimated total number of guns (both licit and illicit) held by civilians in Colombia is 3,200,0001 2

Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population

The estimated rate of private gun ownership (both licit and illicit) in Colombia is 6.91 3 firearms per 100 people

Number of Privately Owned Firearms - World Ranking

In a comparison of the number of privately owned guns in 178 countries, Colombia ranked at No. 304

Rate of Privately Owned Firearms per 100 Population - World Ranking

In a comparison of the rate of private gun ownership in 178 countries, Colombia ranked at No. 913

Number of Licensed Firearm Owners

The number of licensed gun owners in Colombia is reported to be 2009: 882,9285

Rate of Licensed Firearm Owners per 100 Population

The rate of licensed firearm owners per 100 people in Colombia is 2009: 2.026

Number of Registered Firearms

ChartThe number of registered guns in Colombia is reported to be

2009: 1,247,6005 7
2006: 706,2108
2005: 706,2109 4

Rate of Registered Firearms per 100 Population

ChartThe rate of registered guns per 100 people in Colombia is

2009: 2.866
2006: 1,648
2005: 1.706

Estimated Number of Illicit Firearms

Unlawfully held guns cannot be counted, but in Colombia there are estimated to be 800,000 to 2,400,0002 7 9

Estimated Rate of Illicit Firearms per 100 Population

Unlawfully held guns cannot be counted, but in Colombia there are estimated to be 1.93 to 5.786 illicit firearms per 100 people

Government Guns

Number of Military Firearms

The defence forces of Colombia are reported to have 430,00010 2 firearms

Routine Arming of Police

In Colombia, police officers on routine patrol do not carry a firearm11

Number of Law Enforcement Firearms

Police in Colombia are reported to have 285,00010 12 firearms

ImpactsDeath and Injury

Total Number of Gun Deaths

In Colombia, annual deaths resulting from firearms total 1999: 20,39513 14

Rate of All Gun Deaths per 100,000 People

In Colombia, the annual rate of all gun deaths per 100,000 population is 1999: 52.896

Homicides (any method)

ChartIn Colombia, annual homicides by any means total

2012: 15,74215
2011: 15,57216
2010: 15,45916 17
2009: 15,81716 17 18 19
2008: 16,140
2007: 17,198
2006: 17,479
2005: 18,111
2004: 20,210
2003: 23,523
2002: 28,837
2001: 27,840
2000: 26,540
1999: 24,35816 20 19
1998: 23,09616 20
1997: 25,379
1996: 26,64216
1995: 25,398

Rate of Homicide per 100,000 People (any method)

ChartIn Colombia, the annual rate of homicide by any means per 100,000 population is

2012: 3415
2011: 33.216
2010: 33.416 17
2009: 34.616 17 18
2008: 35.9
2007: 38.8
2006: 40.0
2005: 42.1
2004: 47.7
2003: 56.4
2002: 70.2
2001: 68.9
2000: 66.7
1999: 62.316 20
1998: 60.1
1997: 67.2
1996: 71.816
1995: 69.7

Gun Homicides

ChartIn Colombia, annual firearm homicides total

2010: 12,53916 21
2009: 12,80816 19 20 21
2008: 12,89616 19 21
2007: 13,818
2006: 13,195
2005: 14,763
2004: 16,979
2003: 11,30919 21
2002: 24,340
2001: 22,443
2000: 21,89813 19 17
1999: 19,67813 19
1998: 18,91013

Rate of Gun Homicide per 100,000 People

ChartIn Colombia, the annual rate of firearm homicide per 100,000 population is

2010: 27.116 21
2009: 28.1
2008: 28.7
2007: 31.216 21 18
2006: 31.816 21
2005: 34.3
2004: 40.1
2003: 28.036 21
2002: 61.15
2001: 57.09
2000: 51.7713 21
1999: 47.4213
1998: 46.35

Proportion of Homicides Committed With a Gun (WHO)

The World Health Organisation estimates the percentage of homicides committed with a firearm in Colombia to be 2012: 78%15

Suicides (any method)

ChartIn Colombia, annual suicides by any means total

2009: 1,84522
2008: 3,19623 22
2007: 3,105
2006: 3,016
2005: 2,841
2004: 3,095
2003: 2,922
2002: 2,630
2001: 2,669
2000: 2,585
1999: 2,08922
1998: 2,04614

Rate of Suicide per 100,000 People (any method)

ChartIn Colombia, the annual rate of suicide by any means per 100,000 population is

2009: 4.1022
2008: 7.123 22
2007: 7.0
2006: 6.9
2005: 6.6
2004: 7.3
2003: 7.0
2002: 6.4
2001: 6.6
2000: 6.5
1999: 5.2522
1998: 4.6314

Gun Suicides

ChartIn Colombia, annual firearm suicides total

2009: 38222
1999: 64114

Rate of Gun Suicide per 100,000 People

ChartIn Colombia, the annual rate of firearm suicide per 100,000 population is

2009: 0.876
1999: 1.4514

Unintentional Gun Deaths

In Colombia, annual unintentional shooting deaths total 1999: 6414

Rate of Unintentional Gun Death per 100,000 People

In Colombia, the annual rate of unintentional shooting death per 100,000 population is 1999: 0.1414

Gun Deaths from Undetermined Cause

In Colombia, annual shooting deaths in which the cause remains undecided total 1999: 1214

Rate of Gun Death from Undetermined Cause per 100,000 People

In Colombia, the annual rate of unknown-cause shooting deaths per 100,000 population is 1999: 0.0314

ProductionGun Industry

Regulation of Firearm Makers

In Colombia, the manufacture of small arms, ammunition and/or their components is prohibited, for all excluding official government manufacturers24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Small Arms Manufacture - World Ranking

In a classification of the world's small, medium and major firearm manufacturers, Colombia is ranked 'small'31

Home-made Guns

In Colombia, the prevalence of illicit craft, or 'home-made' firearm manufacture is reported to be high32

TransfersGun Trade and Trafficking

Regulation of Firearm Exports

In Colombia, firearm and ammunition exports are limited by transfer control law25 33 34 35 36 37 38

Small Arms Exports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition exports from Colombia is reported by Customs to be US$7,848,24339 (2011)

Small Arms Exports - World Ranking

In a comparison of the world's major/mid-level/minor/unknown small arms exporters, Colombia is categorized as 'minor'40

Regulation of Firearm Imports

In Colombia, firearm and ammunition imports are limited by transfer control law24 25 33 34 35 36 37

Small Arms Imports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition imports to Colombia is reported by Customs to be US$53,773,86939 (2011)41

Smuggling Guns and Ammunition

Reports suggest that the level of firearm and ammunition smuggling in Colombia is high42 43

Regulation of Arms Brokers

In Colombia, the activities of arms brokers and transfer intermediaries are specifically regulated by law44 45

End User Certificates

Customs regulations in Colombia include34 46 certification of the intended end user of any small arms or ammunition transfer, and/or a written declaration of its intended end use

Transparency of Small Arms Transfers

In the most recent survey of state transparency in declaring firearm and ammunition exports among major small arms exporting nations, Colombia was ranked at No. 3547

MeasuresGun Regulation

Firearm Regulation - Guiding Policy

The regulation of guns in Colombia is categorised as restrictive48

Firearm Law

Guiding gun control legislation in Colombia includes the Constitution, Article 223,24 the Decree 2535 of 1993,49 the Decree 1809 of 1994,50 the Decree 2685 of 1999,51 the Law 599 of 2000 (Penal Code), Articles 365 and 366, as amended by Articles 38 and 55 of the Law 1142 of 2007, and the Law 1119 of 200652

Firearm Regulation Authority

Guns in Colombia are regulated by the Arms Committee of the Ministry of National Defence,53 the Head of the Department for the Trade Control of Arms, Ammunition and Explosives, the Chiefs of Staff of the Tactical Operations Units or their equivalent in the Navy or the Air Force and the Executive and Deputy-Heads of Tactical Units of the National Army, or their equivalents in the Navy and the Air Force54

Right to Possess Firearms

In Colombia, the right to private gun ownership is not guaranteed by law55 24 56

Restricted Firearms and Ammunition

In Colombia, civilians are not allowed to possess pistols and revolvers of calibre superior to 9.652mm, automatic arms, semi-automatic rifles and carbines over 22 caliber LR, arms with military-style devices (infrared and laser sights, grenade launchers and silencers),57 50 58 and explosive, toxic, expanding and fragmenting ammunition 59

Regulation of Automatic Weapons

In Colombia, private possession of fully automatic weapons is prohibited with only narrow exemptions57 60 61 62 15

Regulation of Semiautomatic Assault Weapons

In Colombia, private possession of semi-automatic assault weapons is prohibited with only narrow exemptions57 62

Regulation of Handguns

In Colombia, private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is permitted under licence63 57 60 61 62 15

Law Regulates Long Guns

In Colombia, civilian possession of rifles and shotguns is regulated by law63 57 15

Gun Ownership and Possession

In Colombia, only licensed gun owners24 56 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 27 71 72 73 15 74 may lawfully acquire, possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition

Genuine Reason Required for Firearm Possession

Applicants for a gun owner’s licence in Colombia are required to establish a genuine reason to possess a firearm, for example personal protection, security, hunting, target shooting, collection75 70 65 76 68 71 72 73

Minimum Age for Firearm Possession

The minimum age for gun ownership in Colombia is 18 years73

Gun Owner Background Checks

An applicant for a firearm licence in Colombia must pass a background check which considers criminal, mental, health and addiction70 77 73 15 records

Domestic Violence and Firearms

Where a past history, or apprehended likelihood of family violence exists, the law in Colombia stipulates78 that a gun licence should be denied or revoked

Firearm Safety Training

In Colombia, an understanding of firearm safety and the law, tested in a theoretical and/or practical training course is required (for surveillance or private security services)79 for a firearm licence

Gun Owner Licensing Period

In Colombia, gun owners must re-apply and re-qualify for their firearm licence every ten years (for firearms not to be carried outside of the house or property),68 three years (for self-defence) and one year (for restricted weapons)80 81

Limit on Number of Guns

Licensed firearm owners in Colombia are permitted to possess two firearms for individuals69 61 and up to five firearms for legal persons and rural properties82 83 84

Firearm Registration

Civilian Gun Registration

In Colombia, the law requires85 86 62 87 that a record of the acquisition, possession and transfer of each privately held firearm be retained in an official register

Gun Manufacturer Record Keeping

In Colombia, licensed gun makers are required29 85 to keep a record of each firearm produced, for inspection by a regulating authority

State-Owned Firearm Records

In Colombia, State agencies are required85 86 to maintain records of the storage and movement of all firearms and ammunition under their control

Gun Sales and Transfers

Regulation of Private Gun Sales

In Colombia, the private sale and transfer of firearms is prohibited25 88 89 90 91 92 93 94

Regulation of Dealer Gun Sales

In Colombia, dealing in firearms by way of business without a valid gun dealer’s licence is unlawful25 88 89 90 91 92 93

Storage and Transport of Guns and Ammunition

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Private

Firearm regulations in Colombia include95 72 96 97 81 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of private firearms and ammunition by licensed gun owners

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Government

Government regulations in Colombia include97 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition by state entities

Firearm and Ammunition Transport Regulations

Regulations in Colombia include66 42 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition while in transit

Marking and Tracing Guns and Ammunition

Firearm Marking

In Colombia, a unique identifying mark on each firearm is required by law98 99 100 87

Firearm Tracing

In Colombia, state authorities carry out86 101 102 recognised arms tracing and tracking procedures

Ballistic Record of Firearms and Ammunition

In Colombia, the ballistic characteristics of each civilian firearm and its ammunition are not98 recorded in a register

Carrying Guns

Law Regulates Firearms in Public

In Colombia, carrying a gun in a public place is regulated by law24 56 103 80 69 81 15 7

Gun Free Zones

In Colombia, private guns are prohibited in political meetings, elections or public corporations' meetings24

Penalty for Illicit Firearm Possession

In Colombia, the maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm104 is 15 years prison81 105 106

Collection, Amnesty and Destruction Programmes

Authorities in Colombia are known to have105 107 108 109 110 implemented voluntary firearm surrender schemes, and/or weapon seizure programmes in order to reduce the number of illicit firearms in circulation

Surrendered in Gun Amnesty

In Colombia, the number of firearms voluntarily surrendered in recent arms amnesty and collection programmes is reported to be 18,051111 (2003-06) and 250108 (2010 in Bogotá only)

Firearms Collected and Seized

ChartIn Colombia, firearms voluntarily surrendered for destruction, collected or seized in routine policing are reported to number

2009: 47,941112 113 114
2008: 45,725112
2007: 56,682115 109
2006: 70,036
2004: 71,937116
2003: 54,756

Small Arms Destroyed

In Colombia, the total number of firearms destroyed following recent amnesty, collection and seizure programmes is reported to be 15,026110 (2002), 28,103109 (2006/2007), 27,864 (2008), 26,014107 (2009)5 and 9,487108 (2010 in Bogotá only)

MeasuresInternational Controls

Regional Agreements

Andean Community

As a member of the Andean Community, Colombia adopted Decision 552: The Andean Plan to Prevent, Fight and Eradicate Illicit Trafficking in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects in June, 2003117

Organization of American States

On 14 November 1997, as a member of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Colombia adopted the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Explosives, Ammunition and Other Related Materials (CIFTA), a legally binding multilateral treaty of which the OAS is depository. The CIFTA Convention has since been signed and ratified118 119 by Colombia

Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development

The Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development, a diplomatic initiative aimed at addressing the interrelations between armed violence and development, was signed in 2008120 by Colombia.

United Nations Arms Trade Treaty

The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty has been signed, but not yet ratified121 by Colombia

United Nations Firearms Protocol

The United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition has not been signed122 by Colombia

United Nations Small Arms Programme of Action UNPoA

UNPoA Commitment

On 21 July 2001, Colombia committed to a consensus decision of the United Nations to adopt, support and implement the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects123

UNPoA Implementation Monitor Score

In its UN small arms Programme of Action Implementation Monitor (PoAIM Phase 1), the Small Arms Survey scored Colombia against its commitments to the PoA, then ranked it at No. 36124 125 126 127 among 159 Member States

UNPoA National Reporting

Under the terms of its 2001 commitment to the United Nations small arms Programme of Action, Colombia has submitted one or more national reports128 129 on its implementation of the UNPoA

UNPoA National Point of Contact

In Colombia, a National Point of Contact to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has been designated130 129

UNPoA National Coordinating Body

In Colombia, a National Coordinating Body to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has been designated130

UNPoA Civil Society Involvement and Support

In National Reports of Colombia submitted to the UN, a history of substantive cooperation with civil society in support of UNPoA activities is apparent131 130

UNPoA International Assistance – Donor

Funds for UNPoA implementation have not been donated129 by Colombia to other UN Member States

UNPoA International Assistance – Recipient

Funds for UNPoA implementation have been provided129 to Colombia by other UN Member States

United Nations Small Arms Register

According to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, Colombia has declared132 its small arms exports in one or more annual National Reports on Arms Exports.

United Nations Membership

In the UN List of Member States, Colombia has been a Member State of the United Nations since 1945133

Wassenaar Arrangement

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls and Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies does not list134 Colombia as a Participating State

BackgroundCountry Profile

Conflict Profile

For a profile of conflict in Colombia, select the Link icon to open an external web page from the UCDP Conflict Encyclopedia at Uppsala University

Global Peace Index

To see where Colombia ranks, select the Link icon to open an external web page at the Global Peace Index


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