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Guatemala — 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 Guatemala is 1,200,0001 2

Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population

The estimated rate of private gun ownership (both licit and illicit) in Guatemala is 11.11 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, Guatemala ranked at No. 413

Rate of Privately Owned Firearms per 100 Population - World Ranking

In a comparison of the rate of private gun ownership in 178 countries, Guatemala ranked at No. 492

Number of Licensed Firearm Owners

The number of licensed gun owners in Guatemala is reported to be 123,0004

Rate of Licensed Firearm Owners per 100 Population

The rate of licensed firearm owners per 100 people in Guatemala is 1.135

Number of Registered Firearms

ChartThe number of registered guns in Guatemala is reported to be

2009: 393,9966
2006: 253,5147 8
2000: 170,0009

Rate of Registered Firearms per 100 Population

ChartThe rate of registered guns per 100 people in Guatemala is

2009: 2.975
2006: 1,957
2000: 1.535

Estimated Number of Illicit Firearms

Unlawfully held guns cannot be counted, but in Guatemala there are estimated to be 500,0004 to 1,600,0009

Estimated Rate of Illicit Firearms per 100 Population

Unlawfully held guns cannot be counted, but in Guatemala there are estimated to be 4.59 to 14.435 illicit firearms per 100 people

Government Guns

Number of Military Firearms

The defence forces of Guatemala are reported to have 112,00010 11 firearms

Number of Law Enforcement Firearms

Police in Guatemala are reported to have 44,00010 firearms

ImpactsDeath and Injury

Homicides (any method)

ChartIn Guatemala, annual homicides by any means total

2012: 5,15512
2011: 5,68113
2010: 5,96013 14 15
2009: 6,498
2008: 6,292
2007: 5,781
2006: 5,885
2005: 5,33813 14 15 16
2004: 4,507
2003: 4,237
2002: 3,631
2001: 3,230
2000: 2,90413 14 15
1999: 2,65513
1998: 3,310
1997: 3,998
1996: 3,619
1995: 3,260

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

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

2012: 34.212
2011: 38.513
2010: 41.413 14 15
2009: 46.3
2008: 46.0
2007: 43.3
2006: 45.1
2005: 42.0
2004: 36.3
2003: 35.0
2002: 30.8
2001: 28.1
2000: 25.8
1999: 24.213 17
1998: 30.9
1997: 38.1
1996: 35.3
1995: 32.5

Gun Homicides

ChartIn Guatemala, annual firearm homicides total

2010: 5,00913 18
2009: 5,405
2008: 5,237
2007: 4,776
2006: 4,610
2005: 4,23913 18 16
2004: 3,643
2003: 3,451
2002: 2,743
2001: 2,419
2000: 2,10919 18
1999: 1,83919
1998: 2,392

Rate of Gun Homicide per 100,000 People

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

2010: 34.813 18
2009: 38.513 18 15
2008: 38.3
2007: 35.8
2006: 35.4
2005: 33.313 18 15 5
2004: 29.4
2003: 28.5
2002: 23.2
2001: 21.0
2000: 18.5019 18
1999: 16.5719
1998: 22.15

Proportion of Homicides Committed With a Gun (WHO)

The World Health Organisation estimates the percentage of homicides committed with a firearm in Guatemala to be 2012: 82%12

Suicides (any method)

ChartIn Guatemala, annual suicides by any means total

2009: 53320
2008: 547
2007: 361
2006: 30020 21
2005: 24120
2004: 260
2003: 266
2002: 271
2001: 207
2000: 191

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

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

2009: 3.820
2008: 4.0
2007: 2.7
2006: 2.320 21
2005: 1.9
2004: 2.120
2003: 2.2
2002: 2.3
2001: 1.8
2000: 1.7

Non-fatal Gun Injuries

ChartIn Guatemala, the annual number of non-fatal firearm injuries is

2001: 3,21122 23
2000: 3,056
1999: 2,456
1998: 2,61624

ProductionGun Industry

Regulation of Firearm Makers

In Guatemala, the manufacture of small arms, ammunition and/or their components is permitted only if the maker holds a valid licence25 26 27 28

Home-made Guns

In Guatemala, the prevalence of illicit craft, or 'home-made' firearm manufacture is reported to be moderate29

TransfersGun Trade and Trafficking

Regulation of Firearm Exports

In Guatemala, firearm and ammunition exports are limited by transfer control law28 27 26

Small Arms Exports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition exports from Guatemala is reported by Customs to be US$18030 (2011)

Regulation of Firearm Imports

In Guatemala, firearm and ammunition imports are limited by transfer control law31 27 28 32

Small Arms Imports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition imports to Guatemala is reported by Customs to be US$5,928,53730 (2011)

Smuggling Guns and Ammunition

Reports suggest that the level of firearm and ammunition smuggling in Guatemala is moderate4

Regulation of Arms Brokers

In Guatemala, the activities of arms brokers and transfer intermediaries are specifically regulated by law33

End User Certificates

Customs regulations in Guatemala include26 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 Guatemala is categorised as restrictive34

Firearm Law

Guiding gun control legislation in Guatemala includes the Firearm and Ammunition Law, Decree 15, 200935 27

Firearm Regulation Authority

Guns in Guatemala are regulated by the Office for Arms and Ammunition Control36 37

Right to Possess Firearms

In Guatemala, the right to private gun ownership is conditionally guaranteed by the Constitution,38 as limited by statute law39

Restricted Firearms and Ammunition

In Guatemala, civilians are not allowed to possess automatic firearms, military firearms, or weapons of war40 41

Regulation of Automatic Weapons

In Guatemala, private possession of fully automatic weapons is prohibited40 41 12

Regulation of Semiautomatic Assault Weapons

In Guatemala, private possession of semi-automatic assault weapons is permitted under licence40 42

Regulation of Handguns

In Guatemala, private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is permitted under licence40 42 12

Law Regulates Long Guns

In Guatemala, civilian possession of rifles and shotguns is regulated by law12

Gun Ownership and Possession

In Guatemala, only licensed gun owners43 44 45 12 may lawfully acquire, possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition

Genuine Reason Required for Firearm Possession

Applicants for a gun owner’s licence in Guatemala are not required to establish a genuine reason to possess a firearm, but gun ownership for personal security reasons requires government approval, and firearm collection is permitted46 47 48

Minimum Age for Firearm Possession

The minimum age for gun ownership in Guatemala is 25 years for a permit to carry49 50

Gun Owner Background Checks

An applicant for a firearm licence in Guatemala must pass a background check which considers criminal, mental and Army or Police service44 51 52 12 records

Reference Required for Firearm Licence

In Guatemala, third party character references for each gun licence applicant are not required48

Domestic Violence and Firearms

Where a past history, or apprehended likelihood of family violence exists, the law in Guatemala does not stipulate53 52 54 that a gun licence should be denied or revoked

Firearm Safety Training

In Guatemala, an understanding of firearm safety and the law, tested in a theoretical and/or practical training course is required55 for a firearm licence

Gun Owner Licensing Period

In Guatemala, gun owners must re-apply and re-qualify for their firearm licence every one to three years44 56

Licensing Records

In Guatemala, authorities maintain a record45 43 of individual civilians licensed to acquire, possess, sell or transfer a firearm or ammunition

Limit on Number of Guns

Licensed firearm owners in Guatemala are permitted to possess any number of firearms57

Limit on Quantity, Type of Ammunition

Licensed firearm owners in Guatemala are permitted to possess only 250 rounds of ammunition of a calibre for which a carrying licence is held and only 200 rounds of ammunition of a calibre for which a possession licence is held58

Firearm Registration

Civilian Gun Registration

In Guatemala, the law requires37 45 44 43 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 Guatemala, licensed firearm dealers are required59 36 to keep a record of each firearm or ammunition purchase, sale or transfer on behalf of a regulating authority

Gun Manufacturer Record Keeping

In Guatemala, licensed gun makers are required60 61 to keep a record of each firearm produced, for inspection by a regulating authority

State-Owned Firearm Records

In Guatemala, State agencies are required62 63 64 65 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 Guatemala, the private sale and transfer of firearms is permitted66

Regulation of Dealer Gun Sales

In Guatemala, dealing in firearms by way of business without a valid gun dealer’s licence is unlawful59 67 36

Background Checks for Dealer Gun Sales

The buyer of a firearm from a licensed gun dealer in Guatemala is obliged51 59 to pass official background checks before taking possession

Waiting Period for Gun Possession

In Guatemala, the minimum wait for a lawful firearm purchase to be completed is undetermined48

Storage and Transport of Guns and Ammunition

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Private

Firearm regulations in Guatemala include some47 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 Guatemala include59 68 28 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition by licensed arms dealers

Firearm and Ammunition Transport Regulations

Regulations in Guatemala include69 32 70 50 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition while in transit

Marking and Tracing Guns and Ammunition

Firearm Marking

In Guatemala, a unique identifying mark on each firearm is required by law71 27 37 63

Firearm Tracing

In Guatemala, state authorities carry out37 72 43 recognised arms tracing and tracking procedures

Ballistic Record of Firearms and Ammunition

In Guatemala, the ballistic characteristics of each civilian firearm and its ammunition are37 72 43 65 recorded in a register

Carrying Guns

Carrying Guns Openly in Public

In Guatemala, carrying a firearm in plain view in a public place is prohibited73 12

Carrying Hidden Handguns in Public

In Guatemala, carrying a concealed firearm in a public place is allowed, subject to a valid permit73 44 45 12

Penalty for Illicit Firearm Possession

In Guatemala, the maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm74 is 8 to 10 years prison, and up to 15 years for possession of prohibited firearms75 76

Collection, Amnesty and Destruction Programmes

Authorities in Guatemala are known to have77 78 79 80 81 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 Guatemala, the number of firearms voluntarily surrendered in recent arms amnesty and collection programmes is reported to be 1,81882 (1996-98)

Small Arms Destroyed

In Guatemala, the total number of firearms destroyed following recent amnesty, collection and seizure programmes is reported to be 50177 (2006), 3,00078 (2007), 1,50079 (2009) and 6,00080 (2010)

Destruction and Disposal Policy

In Guatemala, it is not state policy83 84 85 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), Guatemala 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 Material86

Organization of American States

On 14 November 1997, as a member of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Guatemala 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 ratified87 88 by Guatemala

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 200689 by Guatemala.

United Nations Arms Trade Treaty

The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty has been signed, but not yet ratified90 by Guatemala

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 ratified91 by Guatemala

United Nations Small Arms Programme of Action UNPoA

UNPoA Commitment

On 21 July 2001, Guatemala 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 Aspects92

UNPoA Implementation Monitor Score

In its UN small arms Programme of Action Implementation Monitor (PoAIM Phase 1), the Small Arms Survey scored Guatemala against its commitments to the PoA, then ranked it at No. 8493 94 95 96 among 159 Member States

UNPoA National Reporting

Under the terms of its 2001 commitment to the United Nations small arms Programme of Action, Guatemala has submitted one or more national reports97 98 on its implementation of the UNPoA

UNPoA National Point of Contact

In Guatemala, a National Point of Contact to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has been designated99 98

UNPoA National Coordinating Body

In Guatemala, a National Coordinating Body to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has been designated99 98

UNPoA Civil Society Involvement and Support

In National Reports of Guatemala submitted to the UN, a history of substantive cooperation with civil society in support of UNPoA activities is apparent100 99

UNPoA International Assistance – Donor

Funds for UNPoA implementation have been donated98 by Guatemala to other UN Member States

UNPoA International Assistance – Recipient

Funds for UNPoA implementation have been provided98 to Guatemala by other UN Member States

United Nations Small Arms Register

According to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, Guatemala has not declared101 its small arms exports in one or more annual National Reports on Arms Exports.

United Nations Membership

In the UN List of Member States, Guatemala has been a Member State of the United Nations since 1945102

Wassenaar Arrangement

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls and Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies does not list103 Guatemala as a Participating State

BackgroundCountry Profile

Conflict Profile

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

Global Peace Index

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


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Guatemala.2009.‘Possession Licence (Registro de Tenencia).’ Firearm and Ammunition Law, Decree 15, 2009 (Ley de Armas y Municiones, Decreto Numero 15, 2009).Guatemala City:Congress of Guatemala,21 April. (Q3873)Full Citation

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Guatemala.2009.‘Firearm Carrying Prohibition (Prohibición de Portación).’ Firearm and Ammunition Law, Decree 15, 2009 (Ley de Armas y Municiones, Decreto Numero 15, 2009).Guatemala City:Congress of Guatemala,21 April. (Q3969)Full Citation

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Guatemala.2009.‘Buying and Selling Requirements (Requisitos de Compraventa).’ Firearm and Ammunition Law, Decree 15, 2009 (Ley de Armas y Municiones, Decreto Numero 15, 2009).Guatemala City:Congress of Guatemala,21 April. (Q3869)Full Citation

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