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

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 400,0001 2 3 4

Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population

The estimated rate of private gun ownership (both licit and illicit) in Costa Rica is 8.61 2 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, Costa Rica ranked at No. 875

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. 643

Number of Licensed Firearm Owners

ChartThe number of licensed gun owners in Costa Rica is reported to be

2015: 230,8316
1999: 152,9237

Rate of Licensed Firearm Owners per 100 Population

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

2015: 4.798
1999: 4.02

Number of Registered Firearms

ChartThe number of registered guns in Costa Rica is reported to be

2015: 230,8316
2014: 245.0014
2011: 206,9122
2006/08: 180,2959
2005: 149,4233 10
1998: 149,4232

Rate of Registered Firearms per 100 Population

ChartThe rate of registered guns per 100 people in Costa Rica is

2015: 4.798
2014: 5.15
2011: 4.52
2006/08: 4.16
2005: 3.55
1998: 4.02

Estimated Number of Illicit Firearms

Unlawfully held guns cannot be counted, but in Costa Rica there are estimated to be

2014: 97.0004

Estimated Rate of Illicit Firearms per 100 Population

Unlawfully held guns cannot be counted, but in Costa Rica there are estimated to be

2014: 2.048 illicit firearms per 100 people

Government Guns

Number of Military Firearms

The defence forces of Costa Rica are reported to have 011 2 12 firearms

Number of Law Enforcement Firearms

Police in Costa Rica are reported to have 5,00011 13 firearms

ImpactsDeath and Injury

Total Number of Gun Deaths

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual deaths resulting from firearms total

2010: 33114
2002: 18715 16

Rate of All Gun Deaths per 100,000 People

ChartIn Costa Rica, the annual rate of all gun deaths per 100,000 population is

2010: 7.338
2002: 4.65

Homicides (any method)

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual homicides by any means total

2013: 41117
2012: 40717 18 19
2011: 47417 18 15
2010: 52717 18 15 20
2009: 52518 15 20 21
2008: 512
2007: 369
2006: 351
2005: 335
2004: 280
2003: 300
2002: 258
2001: 257
2000: 249
1999: 24515
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

2013: 8.7417
2012: 8.7617 18 19
2011: 10.2717 18 15
2010: 11.5517 18 15 20
2009: 11.418 15 20 21
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: 6.415
1998: 6.0
1997: 5.8
1996: 5.3
1995: 5.3

Gun Homicides

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual firearm homicides total

2013: 27817
2012: 26117 18
2011: 300
2010: 349
2009: 33618
2008: 348
2007: 225
2006: 21818 15 22
2005: 19615 22
2004: 150
2003: 147
2002: 131
2001: 134
1999: 12615
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

2013: 5.928
2012: 5.63
2011: 6.56
2010: 7.73
2009: 7.54
2008: 7.92
2007: 5.19
2006: 5.118 15 22 21
2005: 4.515 22 21
2004: 3.5
2003: 3.515 22
2002: 3.2
2001: 3.3
1999: 3.315
1998: 3.2
1997: 3.0
1996: 2.7
1995: 2.5

Proportion of Homicides Committed With a Gun

ChartIn Costa Rica, the percentage of homicides committed with a firearm is reported to be

2013: 68%17
2012: 65%17 18 19
2011: 64%17 18
2010: 66%
2009: 64%18
2008: 68%
2007: 61%
2006: 62%
2005: 58.5%15
2004: 53.6%
2003: 49.0%
2002: 50.8%
2001: 52.1%
1999: 51.4%
1998: 52.7%
1997: 51.4%
1996: 50.3%
1995: 47.3%

Suicides (any method)

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual suicides by any means total

2009: 27923
2008: 262
2007: 272
2006: 30823 24
2005: 27323
2004: 277
2003: 280
2002: 246
2001: 181
2000: 244
1995: 21116

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

2009: 6.123
2008: 5.8
2007: 6.123 24
2006: 7.0
2005: 6.3
2004: 6.523
2003: 6.7
2002: 6.0
2001: 4.5
2000: 6.2
1995: 5.0616

Gun Suicides

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual firearm suicides total

2010: 5114
2002: 5316

Rate of Gun Suicide per 100,000 People

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

2010: 1.138
2002: 1.2716

Unintentional Gun Deaths

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual unintentional shooting deaths total

2010: 414
2002: 316

Rate of Unintentional Gun Death per 100,000 People

ChartIn Costa Rica, the annual rate of unintentional shooting death per 100,000 population is

2010: 0.098
2002: 0.0716

Gun Deaths from Undetermined Cause

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual shooting deaths in which the cause remains undecided total

2010: 514
2000: 1016

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

ChartIn Costa Rica, the annual rate of unknown-cause shooting deaths per 100,000 population is

2010: 0.118
2000: 0.2416

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 licence25 26 27 28 29

TransfersGun Trade and Trafficking

Regulation of Firearm Exports

In Costa Rica, firearm and ammunition exports are limited by transfer control law25 30 26 31 28 32

Small Arms Exports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition exports from Costa Rica is reported by Customs to be US$33633 (2011)

Regulation of Firearm Imports

In Costa Rica, firearm and ammunition imports are limited by transfer control law25 26 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 28 32 42

Small Arms Imports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition imports to Costa Rica is reported by Customs to be US$3,619,98033 (2011)

Smuggling Guns and Ammunition

Reports suggest that the level of firearm and ammunition smuggling in Costa Rica is moderate7

Regulation of Arms Brokers

In Costa Rica, the activities of arms brokers and transfer intermediaries are not specifically regulated by law43

End User Certificates

Customs regulations in Costa Rica include30 32 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 restrictive44

Firearm Law

Guiding gun control legislation in Costa Rica includes the Arms and Explosives Law No. 7530 of 1995,45 29 its Regulation of 2013,46 the Regulation for the Administration, Use, and Control of Firearms by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport,47 the Agreement No. 180 of 2014 on the Import of Firearms Similar to Prohibited Firearms,48 the Agreement No. 112 of 2015,49 as amended by Agreement No. 122,50 the Circular No. 147 of 2012 on Reducing the Number of Arms Belonging to the State51 and the Directive No. 0 of 201252

Firearm Regulation Authority

Guns in Costa Rica are regulated by the Ministry of Public Security, the Armaments Directorate, the Arms Registry, the National Arsenal, and the Arms and Explosives Control Department53 54 55 56 57

Right to Possess Firearms

In Costa Rica, the right to private gun ownership is not guaranteed by law58 59 60 61 52

Restricted Firearms and Ammunition

In Costa Rica, civilians are not allowed to possess automatic firearms, machine guns, sub-machine guns, as well as rifles and semi-automatic carbines whose magazine can hold more than ten rounds (except rimfire cartridges), silencers and armour-piercing, tracer, explosive and incendiary ammunition62 63

Regulation of Automatic Weapons

In Costa Rica, private possession of fully automatic weapons is prohibited62 63 64 19

Regulation of Semiautomatic Assault Weapons

In Costa Rica, private possession of semi-automatic assault weapons is permitted under licence,65 66 with some exceptions62

Regulation of Handguns

In Costa Rica, private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is permitted under licence,65 66 67 19 with some exceptions62 63

Law Regulates Long Guns

In Costa Rica, civilian possession of rifles and shotguns is regulated by law65 66 62 63 67 19

Gun Ownership and Possession

In Costa Rica, only licensed gun owners68 61 69 70 71 28 72 19 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 establish a genuine reason to possess a firearm, for example personal protection,60 61 73 74 security,50 49 hunting, sports shooting70 75 and collection71

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 adult76 77 78 79

Gun Owner Background Checks

An applicant for a firearm licence in Costa Rica must pass a background check which considers criminal,76 77 80 81 82 50 addiction,74 and mental health77 83 84 85 86 52 19 records

Reference Required for Firearm Licence

In Costa Rica, third party character references for each gun licence applicant are not required43

Partner to be Advised or Interviewed

In Costa Rica, licensing authorities are not required43 to conduct interviews with, or to advise an applicant's spouse, partner, or next of kin before issuing a gun licence

Domestic Violence and Firearms

Where a past history, or apprehended likelihood of family violence exists, the law in Costa Rica stipulates74 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 required87 88 86 89 90 82 29 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-defence61

Licensing Records

In Costa Rica, authorities maintain a record68 87 80 83 91 92 93 29 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 firearms for hunting and target shooting68 94 74 95 72

Limit on Quantity, Type of Ammunition

Licensed firearm owners in Costa Rica are permitted to possess any quantity of ammunition43 72

Firearm Registration

Civilian Gun Registration

In Costa Rica, the law requires68 87 88 92 29 80 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 required96 97 98 72 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 required53 99 100 101 102 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 Costa Rica, the private sale and transfer of firearms is permitted98 92 74

Regulation of Dealer Gun Sales

In Costa Rica, dealing in firearms by way of business without a valid gun dealer’s licence is unlawful25 103 26 104 91 27 42

Storage and Transport of Guns and Ammunition

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Private

Firearm regulations in Costa Rica include60 105 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 include103 106 107 42 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 include108 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition by state entities

Firearm and Ammunition Transport Regulations

Regulations in Costa Rica include40 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 law87 109 101

Firearm Tracing

In Costa Rica, state authorities carry out80 110 recognised arms tracing and tracking procedures

Ballistic Record of Firearms and Ammunition

In Costa Rica, the ballistic characteristics of each civilian firearm and its ammunition are not72 80 64 recorded in a register

Carrying Guns

Law Regulates Firearms in Public

In Costa Rica, carrying a gun in a public place is regulated by law61 73 69 82 81 84 28 19

Carrying Guns Openly in Public

In Costa Rica, carrying a firearm in plain view in a public place is prohibited111

Carrying Hidden Handguns in Public

In Costa Rica, carrying a concealed firearm in a public place is allowed, subject to a valid permit111 61 69

Gun Free Zones

In Costa Rica, private guns are prohibited in State facilities, public institutions, health and educational institutions, and in demonstrations or public meetings112

Penalty for Illicit Firearm Possession

In Costa Rica, the maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm113 is three years in prison114 115

Collection, Amnesty and Destruction Programmes

Authorities in Costa Rica are known to have116 117 9 118 57 119 implemented voluntary firearm surrender schemes, and/or weapon seizure programmes in order to reduce the number of illicit firearms in circulation

Firearms Surrendered and Seized

ChartIn Costa Rica, the number of firearms voluntarily surrendered, bought back or seized by authorities is reported to be

2010/14: 38,000120 121 122
2006/08: 14,3829
2004: 3,241123 118
2003: 1,002123
2002: 1,047

Small Arms Destroyed

In Costa Rica, the number of firearms destroyed following amnesty, collection and seizure programmes is reported to be 10,9749 (2006-2008) and 32,000120 (2012-2014)122

Destruction and Disposal Policy

In Costa Rica, it is not state policy124 125 126 117 72 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 Material127

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 ratified128 129 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 2006130 by Costa Rica.

United Nations Arms Trade Treaty

The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty has been signed and ratified131 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 ratified132 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 Aspects133

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. 115134 135 136 137 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 reports138 139 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 designated140 139

UNPoA National Coordinating Body

In Costa Rica, a National Coordinating Body to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has been designated140

UNPoA Civil Society Involvement and Support

In National Reports of Costa Rica submitted to the UN from 2001 to 2010, a history of substantive cooperation with civil society in support of UNPoA activities was apparent141

UNPoA International Assistance – Donor

Funds for UNPoA implementation have not been donated139 by Costa Rica to other UN Member States

UNPoA International Assistance – Recipient

Funds for UNPoA implementation have been provided139 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 declared142 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 1945143

Wassenaar Arrangement

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls and Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies does not list144 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


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