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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

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 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. 873

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. 642

Number of Licensed Firearm Owners

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

2015: 230,8314
1999: 152,9235

Rate of Licensed Firearm Owners per 100 Population

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

2015: 4.796
1999: 4.02

Number of Registered Firearms

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

2015: 230,8314
2005: 149,4232 7

Rate of Registered Firearms per 100 Population

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

2015: 4.796
2005: 3.55

Government Guns

Number of Military Firearms

The defence forces of Costa Rica are reported to have 08 9 firearms

Number of Law Enforcement Firearms

Police in Costa Rica are reported to have 5,0008 10 firearms

ImpactsDeath and Injury

Total Number of Gun Deaths

In Costa Rica, annual deaths resulting from firearms total 2002: 18711 12

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: 4.656

Homicides (any method)

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual homicides by any means total

2012: 40713
2011: 47411
2010: 52711 14
2009: 52511 14 15
2008: 512
2007: 369
2006: 351
2005: 335
2004: 280
2003: 300
2002: 258
2001: 257
2000: 249
1999: 24511
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

2012: 8.813
2011: 10.011
2010: 11.311 14
2009: 11.411 14 15
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: 6.411
1998: 6.0
1997: 5.8
1996: 5.3
1995: 5.3

Gun Homicides

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual firearm homicides total

2006: 20111 16
2005: 196
2004: 150
2003: 147
2002: 131
2001: 134
1999: 12611
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: 4.611 16 15
2005: 4.5
2004: 3.5
2003: 3.511 16
2002: 3.2
2001: 3.3
1999: 3.311
1998: 3.2
1997: 3.0
1996: 2.7
1995: 2.5

Proportion of Homicides Committed With a Gun

In Costa Rica, the percentage of homicides committed with a firearm is reported to be 2012: 63%13

Suicides (any method)

ChartIn Costa Rica, annual suicides by any means total

2009: 27917
2008: 262
2007: 272
2006: 30817 18
2005: 27317
2004: 277
2003: 280
2002: 246
2001: 181
2000: 244
1995: 21112

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: 6.117
2008: 5.8
2007: 6.117 18
2006: 7.0
2005: 6.3
2004: 6.517
2003: 6.7
2002: 6.0
2001: 4.5
2000: 6.2
1995: 5.0612

Gun Suicides

In Costa Rica, annual firearm suicides total 2002: 5312

Rate of Gun Suicide per 100,000 People

In Costa Rica, the annual rate of firearm suicide per 100,000 population is 2002: 1.2712

Unintentional Gun Deaths

In Costa Rica, annual unintentional shooting deaths total 2002: 312

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: 0.0712

Gun Deaths from Undetermined Cause

In Costa Rica, annual shooting deaths in which the cause remains undecided total 2000: 1012

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: 0.2412

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 licence19 20 21 22

TransfersGun Trade and Trafficking

Regulation of Firearm Exports

In Costa Rica, firearm and ammunition exports are limited by transfer control law19 23 20 24

Small Arms Exports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition exports from Costa Rica is reported by Customs to be US$33625 (2011)

Regulation of Firearm Imports

In Costa Rica, firearm and ammunition imports are limited by transfer control law19 26 27 20 28 29 30 31 24 32

Small Arms Imports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition imports to Costa Rica is reported by Customs to be US$3,619,98025 (2011)

Smuggling Guns and Ammunition

Reports suggest that the level of firearm and ammunition smuggling in Costa Rica is moderate5

Regulation of Arms Brokers

In Costa Rica, the activities of arms brokers and transfer intermediaries are not specifically regulated by law33 34

End User Certificates

Customs regulations in Costa Rica do not include33 34 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 restrictive35

Firearm Law

Guiding gun control legislation in Costa Rica includes the Arms and Explosives Law - 7530 of 199536 22 and the Regulation of the Arms and Explosives Law, Decree 25120-SP of 199637

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 Department38 39 40

Right to Possess Firearms

In Costa Rica, the right to private gun ownership is not guaranteed by law41 42 43

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 ammunition44 45

Regulation of Automatic Weapons

In Costa Rica, private possession of fully automatic weapons is prohibited44 45 46 13

Regulation of Semiautomatic Assault Weapons

In Costa Rica, private possession of semi-automatic assault weapons is permitted under licence,47 48 with some restrictions49

Regulation of Handguns

In Costa Rica, private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is permitted under licence,47 48 with some restrictions49 13

Law Regulates Long Guns

In Costa Rica, civilian possession of rifles and shotguns is regulated by law47 48 49 13

Gun Ownership and Possession

In Costa Rica, only the owners of licensed (registered) guns50 43 51 52 53 13 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, security, hunting, sports shooting and collection42 43 51 52 54 55

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 adult56 57 58

Gun Owner Background Checks

An applicant for a firearm licence in Costa Rica must pass a background check which considers criminal and mental59 60 61 62 13 records

Reference Required for Firearm Licence

In Costa Rica, third party character references for each gun licence applicant are not required33 34

Domestic Violence and Firearms

Where a past history, or apprehended likelihood of family violence exists, the law in Costa Rica does not stipulate33 34 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 required63 64 65 66 22 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-defence43 67

Licensing Records

In Costa Rica, authorities maintain a record50 63 59 66 22 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 firearms50 68 69

Limit on Quantity, Type of Ammunition

Licensed firearm owners in Costa Rica are permitted to possess any quantity of ammunition33 34

Firearm Registration

Civilian Gun Registration

In Costa Rica, the law requires50 63 60 66 22 59 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 required70 30 71 69 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 required38 72 73 to maintain records of the storage and movement of all firearms and ammunition under their control

Gun Sales and Transfers

Regulation of Dealer Gun Sales

In Costa Rica, dealing in firearms by way of business without a valid gun dealer’s licence is unlawful19 74 20 75 32

Background Checks for Dealer Gun Sales

The buyer of a firearm from a licensed gun dealer in Costa Rica is obliged59 60 76 32 to pass official background checks before taking possession

Waiting Period for Gun Possession

In Costa Rica, the minimum wait for a lawful firearm purchase to be completed is undetermined33 34

Storage and Transport of Guns and Ammunition

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Private

Firearm regulations in Costa Rica include42 77 78 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 include74 79 75 80 32 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 include81 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition by state entities

Firearm and Ammunition Transport Regulations

Regulations in Costa Rica include28 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 law82

Firearm Tracing

In Costa Rica, state authorities carry out59 82 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 not69 83 recorded in a register

Carrying Guns

Carrying Guns Openly in Public

In Costa Rica, carrying a firearm in plain view in a public place is prohibited84 54 13

Carrying Hidden Handguns in Public

In Costa Rica, carrying a concealed firearm in a public place is allowed, subject to a valid permit84 43 54 55 13

Gun Free Zones

In Costa Rica, private guns are prohibited in State facilities, public institutions, health and educational institutions, and in demonstrations or public meetings85

Penalty for Illicit Firearm Possession

In Costa Rica, the maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm86 is 5 years prison87 88

Collection, Amnesty and Destruction Programmes

Authorities in Costa Rica are known to have89 90 91 92 40 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 38,00093 (2010-2014),94 3,241 95(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 10,97491 (2006-2008) and 32,00093 (2012-2014)94

Destruction and Disposal Policy

In Costa Rica, it is not state policy96 90 97 69 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 Material98

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 ratified99 100 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 2006101 by Costa Rica.

United Nations Arms Trade Treaty

The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty has been signed and ratified102 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 ratified103 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 Aspects104

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. 115105 106 107 108 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 reports109 110 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 designated111 110

UNPoA National Coordinating Body

In Costa Rica, a National Coordinating Body to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has been designated111

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 apparent112

UNPoA International Assistance – Donor

Funds for UNPoA implementation have not been donated110 by Costa Rica to other UN Member States

UNPoA International Assistance – Recipient

Funds for UNPoA implementation have been provided110 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 declared113 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 1945114

Wassenaar Arrangement

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls and Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies does not list115 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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