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Costa Rica — 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 Costa Rica is 430,0001

Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population

The estimated rate of private gun ownership (both licit and illicit) in Costa Rica is 9.91 firearms per 100 people

Number of Privately Owned Firearms - World Ranking

In a comparison of the number of privately owned guns in 178 countries, Costa Rica ranked at No. 872

Rate of Privately Owned Firearms per 100 Population - World Ranking

In a comparison of the rate of private gun ownership in 178 countries, Costa Rica ranked at No. 641

Number of Licensed Firearm Owners

The number of licensed gun owners in Costa Rica is reported to be 152,9233

Rate of Licensed Firearm Owners per 100 Population

The rate of licensed firearm owners per 100 people in Costa Rica is 4.024

Number of Registered Firearms

The number of registered guns in Costa Rica is reported to be 149,4232

Rate of Registered Firearms per 100 Population

The rate of registered guns per 100 people in Costa Rica is 3.554

Government Guns

Number of Military Firearms

The defence forces of Costa Rica are reported to have 18,0505 firearms

Number of Law Enforcement Firearms

Police in Costa Rica are reported to have 15,7506 firearms

ImpactsDeath and Injury

Total Number of Gun Deaths

In Costa Rica, annual deaths resulting from firearms total 2002: 1877 8

Rate of All Gun Deaths per 100,000 People

In Costa Rica, the annual rate of all gun deaths per 100,000 population is 2002: 4.654

Homicides (any method)

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual homicides by any means total

2011: 4747
2010: 527
2009: 5257 9
2008: 512
2007: 369
2006: 351
2005: 335
2004: 280
2003: 300
2002: 258
2001: 257
2000: 249
1999: 2457
1998: 224
1997: 210
1996: 189
1995: 184

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

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

2011: 10.07
2010: 11.3
2009: 11.47 9
2008: 11.3
2007: 8.3
2006: 8.0
2005: 7.8
2004: 6.6
2003: 7.2
2002: 6.3
2001: 6.4
2000: 6.4
1999: 6.47
1998: 6.0
1997: 5.8
1996: 5.3
1995: 5.3

Gun Homicides

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual firearm homicides total

2006: 2017
2005: 196
2004: 150
2003: 147
2002: 131
2001: 134
1999: 126
1998: 118
1997: 108
1996: 95
1995: 87

Rate of Gun Homicide per 100,000 People

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

2006: 4.67 9
2005: 4.5
2004: 3.5
2003: 3.57
2002: 3.2
2001: 3.3
1999: 3.3
1998: 3.2
1997: 3.0
1996: 2.7
1995: 2.5

Suicides (any method)

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual suicides by any means total

2006: 35010
1995: 2118

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

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

2007: 7.0010
2006: 8.00
2005: 6.30
1995: 5.068

Gun Suicides

In Costa Rica, annual firearm suicides total 2002: 538

Rate of Gun Suicide per 100,000 People

In Costa Rica, the annual rate of firearm suicide per 100,000 population is 2002: 1.278

Unintentional Gun Deaths

In Costa Rica, annual unintentional shooting deaths total 2002: 38

Rate of Unintentional Gun Death per 100,000 People

In Costa Rica, the annual rate of unintentional shooting death per 100,000 population is 2002: 0.078

Gun Deaths from Undetermined Cause

In Costa Rica, annual shooting deaths in which the cause remains undecided total 2000: 108

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

In Costa Rica, the annual rate of unknown-cause shooting deaths per 100,000 population is 2000: 0.248

ProductionGun Industry

Regulation of Firearm Makers

In Costa Rica, the manufacture of small arms, ammunition and/or their components is permitted only if the maker holds a valid licence11 12 13 14

TransfersGun Trade and Trafficking

Regulation of Firearm Exports

In Costa Rica, firearm and ammunition exports are limited by transfer control law11 15 12 16

Small Arms Exports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition exports from Costa Rica is reported by Customs to be US$33617 (2011)

Regulation of Firearm Imports

In Costa Rica, firearm and ammunition imports are limited by transfer control law11 18 19 12 20 21 22 23 16 24

Small Arms Imports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition imports to Costa Rica is reported by Customs to be US$3,619,98017 (2011)

Smuggling Guns and Ammunition

Reports suggest that the level of firearm and ammunition smuggling in Costa Rica is moderate3

Regulation of Arms Brokers

In Costa Rica, the activities of arms brokers and transfer intermediaries are not specifically regulated by law25 26

End User Certificates

Customs regulations in Costa Rica do not include25 26 certification of the intended end user of any small arms or ammunition transfer, and/or a written declaration of its intended end use

MeasuresGun Regulation

Firearm Regulation - Guiding Policy

The regulation of guns in Costa Rica is categorised as restrictive27

Firearm Law

Guiding gun control legislation in Costa Rica includes the Arms and Explosives Law - 7530 of 199528 14 and the Regulation of the Arms and Explosives Law, Decree 25120-SP of 199629

Firearm Regulation Authority

Guns in Costa Rica are regulated by the Armaments Directorate, the Arms Registry, the National Arsenal, and the Arms and Explosives Control Department30 31 32

Right to Possess Firearms

In Costa Rica, the right to private gun ownership is not guaranteed by law33 34 35

Restricted Firearms and Ammunition

In Costa Rica, civilians are not allowed to possess automatic firearms, machine guns, sub-machine guns, semi-automatic rifles and carbine with magazines that hold more than ten bullets (except rimfire cartridges), silencers, and armour-piercing, tracer, explosive and incendiary ammunition36 37

Regulation of Automatic Weapons

In Costa Rica, private possession of fully automatic weapons is prohibited36 37 38

Regulation of Semiautomatic Assault Weapons

In Costa Rica, private possession of semi-automatic assault weapons is permitted under licence,39 40 with some restrictions41

Regulation of Handguns

In Costa Rica, private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is permitted under licence,39 40 with some restrictions41

Gun Ownership and Possession

In Costa Rica, only the owners of licensed (registered) guns42 35 43 44 45 may lawfully acquire, possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition

Genuine Reason Required for Firearm Possession

Applicants for a gun owner’s licence in Costa Rica are required to prove genuine reason to possess a firearm, for example, personal protection, security, hunting, sports shooting and collection34 35 43 44 46 47

Minimum Age for Firearm Possession

The minimum age for gun ownership in Costa Rica is 18 years to possess and carry, or 14 years for hunting and target shooting while under the immediate supervision of an appropriately licensed adult48 49 50

Gun Licence Background Checks

An applicant for a firearm licence in Costa Rica must pass a background check which considers criminal and mental51 52 53 54 records

Reference Required for Firearm Licence

In Costa Rica, third party character references for each gun licence applicant are not required25 26

Domestic Violence and Firearms

Where a past history, or apprehended likelihood of family violence exists, the law in Costa Rica does not stipulate25 26 that a gun licence should be denied or revoked

Firearm Safety Training

In Costa Rica, an understanding of firearm safety and the law, tested in a theoretical and/or practical training course is required55 56 57 58 14 for a firearm licence

Gun Owner Licensing Period

In Costa Rica gun owners must re-apply and re-qualify for their firearm licence every year, only for a special licence to carry a firearm for self-defence35 59

Licensing Records

In Costa Rica, authorities maintain a record42 55 51 58 14 of individual civilians licensed to acquire, possess, sell or transfer a firearm or ammunition

Limit on Number of Guns

Licensed firearm owners in Costa Rica are permitted to possess no more than three firearms intended for personal protection, but there is no limit on small calibre hunting and target shooting firearms42 60 61

Limit on Quantity, Type of Ammunition

Licensed firearm owners in Costa Rica are permitted to possess any quantity of ammunition25 26

Firearm Registration

Civilian Gun Registration

In Costa Rica, the law requires42 55 52 58 14 51 that a record of the acquisition, possession and transfer of each privately held firearm be retained in an official register

Gun Dealer Record Keeping

In Costa Rica, licensed firearm dealers are required62 22 63 61 to keep a record of each firearm or ammunition purchase, sale or transfer on behalf of a regulating authority

State-Owned Firearm Records

In Costa Rica, State agencies are required30 64 65 to maintain records of the storage and movement of all firearms and ammunition under their control

Gun Sales and Transfers

Background Checks on Dealer Gun Sales

The buyer of a firearm from a licensed gun dealer in Costa Rica is obliged51 52 66 24 to pass official background checks before taking possession

Regulation of Dealer Gun Sales

In Costa Rica, dealing in firearms by way of business without a valid gun dealer’s licence is unlawful11 67 12 68 24

Waiting Period for Gun Possession

In Costa Rica, the minimum wait for a lawful firearm purchase to be completed is undetermined25 26

Storage and Transport of Guns and Ammunition

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Private

Firearm regulations in Costa Rica include34 69 70 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of private firearms and ammunition by licensed gun owners

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Dealer

Firearm regulations in Costa Rica include67 71 68 72 24 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition by licensed arms dealers

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Government

Government regulations in Costa Rica include73 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition by state entities

Firearm and Ammunition Transport Regulations

Regulations in Costa Rica include20 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition while in transit

Marking and Tracing Guns and Ammunition

Firearm Marking

In Costa Rica, a unique identifying mark on each firearm is required by law74

Firearm Tracing

In Costa Rica, state authorities carry out51 74 recognised arms tracing and tracking procedures

Ballistic Marking of Firearms and Ammunition

In Costa Rica, state authorities employ51 61 ballistic fingerprinting technology to trace guns and ammunition

Carrying Guns

Carrying Guns Openly in Public

In Costa Rica, carrying a firearm in plain view in a public place is prohibited75 46

Carrying Hidden Handguns in Public

In Costa Rica, carrying a concealed firearm in a public place is allowed, subject to a valid permit75 35 46 47

Gun Free Zones

In Costa Rica, private guns are prohibited in State facilities, public institutions, health and educational institutions, and in demonstrations or public meetings76

Penalty for Illicit Firearm Possession

In Costa Rica, the maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm77 is 5 years prison78 79

Collection, Amnesty and Destruction Programmes

Authorities in Costa Rica are known to have80 81 82 83 32 implemented voluntary firearm surrender schemes, and/or weapon seizure programmes in order to reduce the number of illicit firearms in circulation

Firearms Collected and Seized

In Costa Rica, firearms voluntarily surrendered for destruction, collected or seized in routine policing are reported to number 38,00084 (2010-2014),85 3,241 86(2004), 1,002 (2003), and 1,047 (2002)

Small Arms Destroyed

In Costa Rica, the total number of firearms destroyed following recent amnesty, collection and seizure programmes is reported to be 10,97482 (2006-2008) and 32,00084 (2012-2014)85

Destruction and Disposal Policy

In Costa Rica, it is not state policy87 81 88 61 to destroy surplus, collected and seized firearms rather than return them to the secondary arms market

MeasuresInternational Controls

Regional Agreements

Central American Integration System

As a member of the Central American Integration System (SICA), Costa Rica is party to the 2007 Central American Programme on Small Arms Control and the Code of Conduct of Central American States on the Transfer of Arms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Material89

Organization of American States

On 14 November 1997, as a member of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Costa Rica 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 ratified90 91 by Costa Rica

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 200692 by Costa Rica.

United Nations Arms Trade Treaty

The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty has been signed and ratified93 by Costa Rica

United Nations Firearms Protocol

The United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition has been signed and ratified94 by Costa Rica

United Nations Small Arms Programme of Action UNPoA

UNPoA Commitment

On 21 July 2001, Costa Rica 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 Aspects95

UNPoA Implementation Monitor Score

In its UN small arms Programme of Action Implementation Monitor (PoAIM Phase 1), the Small Arms Survey scored Costa Rica against its commitments to the PoA, then ranked it at No. 11596 97 98 99 among 159 Member States

UNPoA National Reporting

Under the terms of its 2001 commitment to the United Nations small arms Programme of Action, Costa Rica has submitted one or more national reports100 101 on its implementation of the UNPoA

UNPoA National Point of Contact

In Costa Rica, a National Point of Contact to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has been designated102 101

UNPoA National Coordinating Body

In Costa Rica, a National Coordinating Body to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has been designated102

UNPoA Civil Society Involvement and Support

In National Reports of Costa Rica submitted to the UN, a history of substantive cooperation with civil society in support of UNPoA activities is apparent103

UNPoA International Assistance – Donor

Funds for UNPoA implementation have not been donated101 by Costa Rica to other UN Member States

UNPoA International Assistance – Recipient

Funds for UNPoA implementation have been provided101 to Costa Rica by other UN Member States

United Nations Small Arms Register

According to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, Costa Rica has not declared104 its small arms exports in one or more annual National Reports on Arms Exports.

United Nations Membership

In the UN List of Member States, Costa Rica has been a Member State of the United Nations since 1945105

Wassenaar Arrangement

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls and Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies does not list106 Costa Rica as a Participating State

BackgroundCountry Profile

Conflict Profile

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

Global Peace Index

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


Short References

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Costa Rica.1995.‘Prohibited Firearm Collections (Colección de Armas Prohibidas).’ Arms and Explosives Law 7530 of 1995 (Ley de Armas y Explosivos, Ley 7530 de 1995).San Jose:Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica,10 July. (Q4179)Full Citation

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Costa Rica.1995.‘Sporting Arms (Armas para Deportistas).’ Arms and Explosives Law 7530 of 1995 (Ley de Armas y Explosivos, Ley 7530 de 1995).San Jose:Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica,10 July. (Q4135)Full Citation

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Costa Rica.1996.‘Permitted Firearms (Armas Permitidas).’ Regulation of the Arms and Explosives Law, Decree 25120-SP of 1996 (Reglamento a la Ley de Armas y Explosivos, Decreto 25120-SP de 1996).San Jose:Presidency of Costa Rica,13 June. (Q4195)Full Citation

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Costa Rica.1995.‘Firearm Registration by Individuals (Inscripción de Armas por Parte de Personas Físicas).’ Arms and Explosives Law 7530 of 1995 (Ley de Armas y Explosivos, Ley 7530 de 1995).San Jose:Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica,10 July. (Q4106)Full Citation

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Costa Rica.1995.‘Scope of the Licence (Alcances del Permiso de Inscripción).’ Arms and Explosives Law 7530 of 1995 (Ley de Armas y Explosivos, Ley 7530 de 1995).San Jose:Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica,10 July. (Q4136)Full Citation

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Costa Rica.1995.‘Firearm Collectors (Poseedores de Colecciones).’ Arms and Explosives Law 7530 of 1995 (Ley de Armas y Explosivos, Ley 7530 de 1995).San Jose:Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica,10 July. (Q4177)Full Citation

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Costa Rica.1996.‘Registration of Permitted Firearm Collections (Permiso de Inscripción de Armas Permitidas de Colección).’ Regulation of the Arms and Explosives Law, Decree 25120-SP of 1996 (Reglamento a la Ley de Armas y Explosivos, Decreto 25120-SP de 1996).San Jose:Presidency of Costa Rica,13 June. (Q4373)Full Citation

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Costa Rica.1996.‘Special Licence to Carry Arms (Permiso Especial de Portación).’ Regulation of the Arms and Explosives Law, Decree 25120-SP of 1996 (Reglamento a la Ley de Armas y Explosivos, Decreto 25120-SP de 1996).San Jose:Presidency of Costa Rica,13 June. (Q4301)Full Citation

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Costa Rica.1996.‘Special Licence to Carry Arms – Requirements (Requisitos del Permiso Especial).’ Regulation of the Arms and Explosives Law, Decree 25120-SP of 1996 (Reglamento a la Ley de Armas y Explosivos, Decreto 25120-SP de 1996).San Jose:Presidency of Costa Rica,13 June. (Q4303)Full Citation

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Costa Rica.1995.‘People Who Cannot Carry Arms (Personas Inhibidas para Portar Armas).’ Arms and Explosives Law 7530 of 1995 (Ley de Armas y Explosivos, Ley 7530 de 1995).San Jose:Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica,10 July. (Q4055)Full Citation

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Costa Rica.1995.‘Requirements (Requisitos).’ Arms and Explosives Law 7530 of 1995 (Ley de Armas y Explosivos, Ley 7530 de 1995).San Jose:Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica,10 July. (Q4108)Full Citation

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Costa Rica.1995.‘Licence for Minors (Permisos a Menores).’ Arms and Explosives Law 7530 of 1995 (Ley de Armas y Explosivos, Ley 7530 de 1995).San Jose:Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica,10 July. (Q4138)Full Citation

51.

Costa Rica.1995.‘Intervention of the Department (Intervención del Departamento).’ Arms and Explosives Law 7530 of 1995 (Ley de Armas y Explosivos, Ley 7530 de 1995).San Jose:Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica,10 July. (Q4111)Full Citation

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Costa Rica.1995.‘Registering a Firearm (Solicitudes de Inscripción).’ Arms and Explosives Law 7530 of 1995 (Ley de Armas y Explosivos, Ley 7530 de 1995).San Jose:Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica,10 July. (Q4131)Full Citation

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