Find Gun Policy Facts

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

Panama — 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 Panama is 450,0001 2 3

Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population

The estimated rate of private gun ownership (both licit and illicit) in Panama is 12.91 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, Panama ranked at No. 664

Rate of Privately Owned Firearms per 100 Population - World Ranking

In a comparison of the rate of private gun ownership in 178 countries, Panama ranked at No. 262

Number of Registered Firearms

ChartThe number of registered guns in Panama is reported to be

2014: 195,4363
2009: 126,9085
2006: 65,4366 7
2005: 96,6142
2001: 96,6145

Rate of Registered Firearms per 100 Population

ChartThe rate of registered guns per 100 people in Panama is

2014: 5.428
2009: 3.78
2006: 1.996
2005: 3.068
2001: 3.27

Estimated Number of Illicit Firearms

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

2014: 130,0003

Estimated Rate of Illicit Firearms per 100 Population

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

2014: 3.608 illicit firearms per 100 people

Government Guns

Number of Military Firearms

The defence forces of Panama are reported to have 29,0009 10 firearms

Number of Law Enforcement Firearms

Police in Panama are reported to have 15,5009 11 firearms

ImpactsDeath and Injury

Total Number of Gun Deaths

ChartIn Panama, annual deaths resulting from firearms total

2009: 69812
2002: 26913

Rate of All Gun Deaths per 100,000 People

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

2009: 20.778
2002: 8.96

Homicides (any method)

ChartIn Panama, annual homicides by any means total

2013: 66614
2012: 66514 15 16
2011: 75914 15 17
2010: 75914 15 17 18 19
2009: 818
2008: 654
2007: 444
2006: 363
2005: 364
2004: 308
2003: 338
2002: 380
2001: 306
2000: 299
1999: 28517
1998: 281
1997: 315
1996: 248
1995: 377

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

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

2013: 17.314
2012: 17.5614 15 16
2011: 20.3814 15 17
2010: 20.7314 15 17 18 19
2009: 23.71
2008: 19.26
2007: 12.29
2006: 11.05
2005: 11.28
2004: 9.71
2003: 10.85
2002: 12.42
2001: 10.19
2000: 10.14
1999: 9.817
1998: 9.9
1997: 11.3
1996: 9.1
1995: 14.1

Gun Homicides

ChartIn Panama, annual firearm homicides total

2013: 51114
2012: 51014 15
2011: 585
2010: 58214 15 17 20
2009: 67115 17 20
2008: 517
2007: 289
2006: 252
2005: 215
2004: 18517
2002: 22213

Rate of Gun Homicide per 100,000 People

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

2013: 14.368
2012: 14.53
2011: 16.91
2010: 17.068 17 20 19
2009: 19.97
2008: 15.62
2007: 8.87
2006: 7.86
2005: 6.81
2004: 5.817
2003: 6.4719
2002: 7.1213

Proportion of Homicides Committed With a Gun

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

2013: 77%14
2012: 77%14 15 16
2011: 77%14 15
2010: 77%
2009: 82%15
2008: 79%
2007: 65%
2006: 68%
2005: 59%
2004: 60.1%17

Suicides (any method)

ChartIn Panama, annual suicides by any means total

2009: 19021
2008: 201
2007: 191
2006: 20721 22
2005: 19621
2004: 232
2003: 231
2002: 19621 13
2001: 19521
2000: 171

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

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

2009: 5.521
2008: 5.9
2007: 5.7
2006: 6.321 22
2005: 6.1
2004: 7.3
2003: 7.4
2002: 6.421 13
2001: 6.521
2000: 5.8

Gun Suicides

ChartIn Panama, annual firearm suicides total

2009: 1912
2002: 3113

Rate of Gun Suicide per 100,000 People

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

2009: 0.578
2002: 0.9913

Unintentional Gun Deaths

In Panama, annual unintentional shooting deaths total

2002: 213

Rate of Unintentional Gun Death per 100,000 People

In Panama, the annual rate of unintentional shooting death per 100,000 population is

2002: 0.0613

Gun Deaths from Undetermined Cause

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

2009: 412
2002: 1413

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

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

2009: 0.128
2002: 0.4513

ProductionGun Industry

Regulation of Firearm Makers

In Panama, the manufacture of small arms, ammunition and/or their components is permitted only if the maker holds a valid licence23 24 25 26 27 but is not conducted in practice28

TransfersGun Trade and Trafficking

Regulation of Firearm Exports

In Panama, firearm and ammunition exports are limited by transfer control law29 30 31 32 33

Small Arms Exports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition exports from Panama is reported by Customs to be US$195,49134 (2011)

Regulation of Firearm Imports

In Panama, firearm and ammunition imports are limited by transfer control law35 36 30 37 29 38 31 39 32 33

Small Arms Imports (US$) - Customs

The annual value of small arms and ammunition imports to Panama is reported by Customs to be US$2,246,24334 (2011)

Smuggling Guns and Ammunition

Reports suggest that the level of firearm and ammunition smuggling in Panama is high40

Regulation of Arms Brokers

In Panama, the activities of arms brokers and transfer intermediaries are specifically regulated by law41 42

End User Certificates

Customs regulations in Panama do not include31 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 Panama is categorised as restrictive43

Firearm Law

Guiding gun control legislation in Panama includes the Firearms Act No. 57 of 201144 and its regulation (to be adopted)31

Firearm Regulation Authority

Guns in Panama are regulated by the Ministry of Public Security, through the Institutional Directorate on Public Security Affairs (DIASP)45 29

Right to Possess Firearms

In Panama, the right to private gun ownership is not guaranteed by law46 47

Restricted Firearms and Ammunition

In Panama, civilians are not allowed to possess weapons of war,44 48 automatic firearms, long guns with shortened barrels, home-made firearms, and armour-piercing, explosive, or expanding ammunition49

Regulation of Automatic Weapons

In Panama, private possession of fully automatic weapons is prohibited49 16

Regulation of Semiautomatic Assault Weapons

In Panama, private possession of semi-automatic assault weapons is permitted under licence50

Regulation of Handguns

In Panama, private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is permitted under licence50 16

Law Regulates Long Guns

In Panama, civilian possession of rifles and shotguns is regulated by law50 49 16

Gun Ownership and Possession

In Panama, only licensed gun owners51 52 53 54 55 50 29 56 57 16 may lawfully acquire, possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition

Genuine Reason Required for Firearm Possession

Applicants for a gun owner’s licence in Panama are required to establish a genuine reason to possess a firearm, for example personal protection,52 hunting, and sports shooting50

Minimum Age for Firearm Possession

The minimum age for gun ownership in Panama is 18 years58, or 21 years for carrying59 and self-defence60

Gun Owner Background Checks

An applicant for a firearm licence in Panama must pass a background check which considers criminal, mental health, and addiction58 60 16 records

Domestic Violence and Firearms

Where a past history, or apprehended likelihood of family violence exists, the law in Panama stipulates58 that a gun licence should be denied or revoked

Firearm Safety Training

In Panama, an understanding of firearm safety and the law, tested in a theoretical and/or practical training course is required60 59 29 for a firearm licence

Gun Owner Licensing Period

In Panama, gun owners must re-apply and re-qualify for their firearm licence every ten years (for possession)61 and four years (for carrying)62

Licensing Records

In Panama, authorities maintain a record29 63 64 of individual civilians licensed to acquire, possess, sell or transfer a firearm or ammunition

Firearm Registration

Civilian Gun Registration

In Panama, the law requires65 63 64 66 67 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 Panama, licensed firearm dealers are required68 69 to keep a record of each firearm or ammunition purchase, sale or transfer on behalf of a regulating authority

Gun Manufacturer Record Keeping

In Panama, licensed gun makers are required25 to keep a record of each firearm produced, for inspection by a regulating authority

State-Owned Firearm Records

In Panama, State agencies are required63 70 71 72 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 Panama, the private sale and transfer of firearms is permitted73 74 56

Regulation of Dealer Gun Sales

In Panama, dealing in firearms by way of business without a valid gun dealer’s licence is unlawful75 38 29 76 77 69

Background Checks for Dealer Gun Sales

The buyer of a firearm from a licensed gun dealer in Panama is obliged76 to pass official background checks before taking possession

Storage and Transport of Guns and Ammunition

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Dealer

Firearm regulations in Panama include29 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition by licensed arms dealers

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Government

Government regulations in Panama include70 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition by state entities

Firearm and Ammunition Transport Regulations

Regulations in Panama include78 52 79 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition while in transit

Marking and Tracing Guns and Ammunition

Firearm Marking

In Panama, a unique identifying mark on each firearm is required by law63 37 39 67

Firearm Tracing

In Panama, state authorities carry out80 63 64 65 recognised arms tracing and tracking procedures

Ballistic Record of Firearms and Ammunition

In Panama, the ballistic characteristics of each civilian firearm and its ammunition are80 65 63 60 recorded in a register

Carrying Guns

Law Regulates Firearms in Public

In Panama, carrying a gun in a public place is regulated by law54 48 81 59 62 55 82 16

Carrying Hidden Handguns in Public

In Panama, carrying a concealed firearm in a public place is allowed, subject to a valid permit83 81 59 62

Penalty for Illicit Firearm Possession

In Panama, the maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm84 is a fine85 86 87

Collection, Amnesty and Destruction Programmes

Authorities in Panama are known to have88 29 89 90 implemented voluntary firearm surrender schemes, and/or weapon seizure programmes in order to reduce the number of illicit firearms in circulation

Exchanged in Gun Buyback

In Panama, the total number of firearms exchanged for monetary or in-kind compensation during recent gun buyback and disposal programmes is reported to be 1,73091 (2012) and 55092 (2014)

Firearms Surrendered and Seized

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

2013: 1,77093
2012: 1,95593 94
2011: 3,011
2010: 1,93693
2006-08: 7,08395
2004: 1,57696
2002: 1,83597
2001: 1,704

Small Arms Destroyed

In Panama, the number of firearms destroyed following amnesty, collection and seizure programmes is reported to be 98695 (2006-2008)91

Destruction and Disposal Policy

In Panama, it is state policy71 98 99 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), Panama 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 Material100

Organization of American States

On 14 November 1997, as a member of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Panama 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 ratified101 102 by Panama

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 2007103 by Panama.

United Nations Arms Trade Treaty

The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty has been signed and ratified104 by Panama

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 ratified105 by Panama

United Nations Small Arms Programme of Action UNPoA

UNPoA Commitment

On 21 July 2001, Panama 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 Aspects106

UNPoA Implementation Monitor Score

In its UN small arms Programme of Action Implementation Monitor (PoAIM Phase 1), the Small Arms Survey scored Panama against its commitments to the PoA, then ranked it at No. 32107 108 109 110 among 159 Member States

UNPoA National Reporting

Under the terms of its 2001 commitment to the United Nations small arms Programme of Action, Panama has submitted one or more national reports111 112 on its implementation of the UNPoA

UNPoA National Point of Contact

In Panama, a National Point of Contact to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has been designated113 112

UNPoA National Coordinating Body

In Panama, a National Coordinating Body to deal with issues relating to the UNPoA has been designated113 112

UNPoA Civil Society Involvement and Support

In National Reports of Panama submitted to the UN from 2001 to 2010, a history of substantive cooperation with civil society in support of UNPoA activities was apparent113

UNPoA International Assistance – Donor

Funds for UNPoA implementation have not been donated112 by Panama to other UN Member States

United Nations Small Arms Register

According to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, Panama has not declared114 its small arms exports in one or more annual National Reports on Arms Exports.

United Nations Membership

In the UN List of Member States, Panama has been a Member State of the United Nations since 1945115

Wassenaar Arrangement

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls and Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies does not list116 Panama as a Participating State

BackgroundCountry Profile

Conflict Profile

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

Global Peace Index

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


Short References

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Panama.2011.‘Security Measures (Medidas de seguridad).’ Act No. 57 on Firearms, Ammunition and Related Materials (Ley Nº 57 general de armas de fuego, municiones y materiales relacionados).Panama:National Assembly of the Republic of Panama,27 May. (Q10409)Full Citation

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Panama.2011.‘Repair Requirements (Requisitos para la reparación).’ Act No. 57 on Firearms, Ammunition and Related Materials (Ley Nº 57 general de armas de fuego, municiones y materiales relacionados).Panama:National Assembly of the Republic of Panama,27 May. (Q10410)Full Citation

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Panama.2011.‘Grounds for Denial of the Request - Repair Shops (Causales de denegación de la solicitud).’ Act No. 57 on Firearms, Ammunition and Related Materials (Ley Nº 57 general de armas de fuego, municiones y materiales relacionados).Panama:National Assembly of the Republic of Panama,27 May. (Q10412)Full Citation

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Panama.2011.‘Functions of DIASP (Funciones de la DIASP).’ Act No. 57 on Firearms, Ammunition and Related Materials (Ley Nº 57 general de armas de fuego, municiones y materiales relacionados).Panama:National Assembly of the Republic of Panama,27 May. (Q10379)Full Citation

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Panama.2011.‘Import Licence and Prohibited Re-export (Licencia de importación y prohibición de exportación).’ Act No. 57 on Firearms, Ammunition and Related Materials (Ley Nº 57 general de armas de fuego, municiones y materiales relacionados).Panama:National Assembly of the Republic of Panama,27 May. (Q10403)Full Citation

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Panama.2011.‘General Requirements (Requisitos generales).’ Act No. 57 on Firearms, Ammunition and Related Materials (Ley Nº 57 general de armas de fuego, municiones y materiales relacionados).Panama:National Assembly of the Republic of Panama,27 May. (Q10404)Full Citation

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Panama.2011.‘Advertising Restrictions (Restricción de publicidad).’ Act No. 57 on Firearms, Ammunition and Related Materials (Ley Nº 57 general de armas de fuego, municiones y materiales relacionados).Panama:National Assembly of the Republic of Panama,27 May. (Q10375)Full Citation

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Panama.2011.‘Object (Objectivo).’ Act No. 57 on Firearms, Ammunition and Related Materials (Ley Nº 57 general de armas de fuego, municiones y materiales relacionados).Panama:National Assembly of the Republic of Panama,27 May. (Q10370)Full Citation

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Panama.2011.‘Authority in Charge of the Implementation (Autoridad responsable de la aplicación).’ Act No. 57 on Firearms, Ammunition and Related Materials (Ley Nº 57 general de armas de fuego, municiones y materiales relacionados).Panama:National Assembly of the Republic of Panama,27 May. (Q10371)Full Citation

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Panama.2011.‘Additional Prohibitions (Prohibiciones adicionales ).’ Act No. 57 on Firearms, Ammunition and Related Materials (Ley Nº 57 general de armas de fuego, municiones y materiales relacionados).Panama:National Assembly of the Republic of Panama,27 May. (Q10376)Full Citation

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Panama.2011.‘Prohibited Firearms and Ammunition (Armas de fuego y municiones prohibidas).’ Act No. 57 on Firearms, Ammunition and Related Materials (Ley Nº 57 general de armas de fuego, municiones y materiales relacionados).Panama:National Assembly of the Republic of Panama,27 May. (Q10373)Full Citation

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Panama.2011.‘Classification of Firearms (Clasificación de las armas).’ Act No. 57 on Firearms, Ammunition and Related Materials (Ley Nº 57 general de armas de fuego, municiones y materiales relacionados).Panama:National Assembly of the Republic of Panama,27 May. (Q10377)Full Citation

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Panama.2011.‘Possession (Tenencia).’ Act No. 57 on Firearms, Ammunition and Related Materials (Ley Nº 57 general de armas de fuego, municiones y materiales relacionados).Panama:National Assembly of the Republic of Panama,27 May. (Q10390)Full Citation

52.

Panama.2011.‘Certificate of Possession (Certificado de tenencia).’ Act No. 57 on Firearms, Ammunition and Related Materials (Ley Nº 57 general de armas de fuego, municiones y materiales relacionados).Panama:National Assembly of the Republic of Panama,27 May. (Q10391)Full Citation

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Panama.2011.‘Firearm Possession Certificate (Certificado de tenencia de arma de fuego).’ Act No. 57 on Firearms, Ammunition and Related Materials (Ley Nº 57 general de armas de fuego, municiones y materiales relacionados).Panama:National Assembly of the Republic of Panama,27 May. (Q10394)Full Citation

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