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

Puerto Rico — 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 Puerto Rico is 800,0001 2

Rate of Civilian Firearm Possession per 100 Population

The estimated rate of private gun ownership (both licit and illicit) in Puerto Rico is 20.01 firearms per 100 people

Proportion of Adults Living in a Home With a Gun

In Puerto Rico, the percentage of adults living in a household with a firearm is reported to be

2001: 6.7%3 2

Estimated Number of Illicit Firearms

Unlawfully held guns cannot be counted, but in Puerto Rico there are estimated to be 380,0004

Estimated Rate of Illicit Firearms per 100 Population

Unlawfully held guns cannot be counted, but in Puerto Rico there are estimated to be 10.425 illicit firearms per 100 people

Government Guns

Number of Military Firearms

The defence forces of Puerto Rico are reported to have 12,0006 firearms

Number of Law Enforcement Firearms

Police in Puerto Rico are reported to have 24,0006 firearms

ImpactsDeath and Injury

Total Number of Gun Deaths

In Puerto Rico, annual deaths resulting from firearms total

2001: 7347

Rate of All Gun Deaths per 100,000 People

In Puerto Rico, the annual rate of all gun deaths per 100,000 population is

2001: 19.225

Homicides (any method)

ChartIn Puerto Rico, annual homicides by any means total

2013: 9188
2012: 1,0158 9
2011: 1,1808 10
2010: 1,0308 9 11
2009: 956
2008: 874
2007: 774
2006: 783
2005: 825
2004: 843
2003: 818
2002: 820
2001: 802
2000: 734
1999: 59311
1998: 652
1997: 724
1996: 868
1995: 864

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

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

2013: 25.398
2012: 27.688 9
2011: 31.948
2010: 27.658 9 11
2009: 24.1
2008: 22.1
2007: 19.63
2006: 19.94
2005: 21.1
2004: 21.65
2003: 21.1
2002: 21.25
2001: 20.9
2000: 19.24
1999: 15.611
1998: 17.2
1997: 19.3
1996: 23.3
1995: 23.3

Gun Homicides

ChartIn Puerto Rico, annual firearm homicides total

2013: 8368
2012: 896
2011: 1,028
2010: 929
2005: 69211
2001: 6707

Rate of Gun Homicide per 100,000 People

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

2013: 22.935
2012: 24.40
2011: 27.78
2010: 24.97
2005: 18.311
2001: 17.277

Proportion of Homicides Committed With a Gun

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

2013: 91%8
2012: 88%
2011: 87%
2010: 90%
2005: 94.8%11

Suicides (any method)

In Puerto Rico, annual suicides by any means total

2001: 2797

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

In Puerto Rico, the annual rate of suicide by any means per 100,000 population is

2001: 7.197

Gun Suicides

In Puerto Rico, annual firearm suicides total

2001: 457

Rate of Gun Suicide per 100,000 People

In Puerto Rico, the annual rate of firearm suicide per 100,000 population is

2001: 1.167

Unintentional Gun Deaths

In Puerto Rico, annual unintentional shooting deaths total

2001: 197

Rate of Unintentional Gun Death per 100,000 People

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

2001: 0.497

Gun Deaths from Undetermined Cause

In Puerto Rico, annual shooting deaths in which the cause remains undecided total

2000: 17

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

In Puerto Rico, the annual rate of unknown-cause shooting deaths per 100,000 population is

2000: 0.037

ProductionGun Industry

Regulation of Firearm Makers

In Puerto Rico, the manufacture of small arms, ammunition and/or their components is permitted only if the maker holds a valid licence12 13 14 15 16 17

TransfersGun Trade and Trafficking

Regulation of Firearm Imports

In Puerto Rico, firearm and ammunition imports are limited by transfer control law12 13

Smuggling Guns and Ammunition

Reports suggest that the level of firearm and ammunition smuggling in Puerto Rico is high18 19 20

MeasuresGun Regulation

Firearm Regulation - Guiding Policy

The regulation of guns in Puerto Rico is categorised as restrictive21

Firearm Law

Guiding gun control legislation in Puerto Rico includes the Arms Act of 2000, Chapter 51A22

Firearm Regulation Authority

Guns in Puerto Rico are regulated by the the Police Superintendent23 and the Secretary of the Department of the Treasury13 20

Right to Possess Firearms

In Puerto Rico, the right to private gun ownership is conditionally guaranteed by the US Constitution,24 as limited by federal law25 and state law26

Restricted Firearms and Ammunition

In Puerto Rico, civilians are not allowed to possess machine guns, automatic firearms, sawn-off shotguns of less than eighteen (18) inches or armour-piercing ammunition27 28 29 30

Regulation of Automatic Weapons

In Puerto Rico, private possession of fully automatic weapons is prohibited27 28 29

Regulation of Semiautomatic Assault Weapons

In Puerto Rico, private possession of semi-automatic assault weapons is permitted under licence30 28

Regulation of Handguns

In Puerto Rico, private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is permitted under licence30 31

Law Regulates Long Guns

In Puerto Rico, civilian possession of rifles and shotguns is regulated by law30 28

Gun Ownership and Possession

In Puerto Rico, only licensed gun owners32 23 14 27 33 34 35 may lawfully acquire, possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition

Minimum Age for Firearm Possession

The minimum age for gun ownership in Puerto Rico is 21 years23 (with exceptions for hunting or sport)36

Gun Owner Background Checks

An applicant for a firearm licence in Puerto Rico must pass a background check which considers criminal, mental health and addiction23 37 38 records

Reference Required for Firearm Licence

In Puerto Rico, third party character references for each gun licence applicant are required23

Domestic Violence and Firearms

Where a past history, or apprehended likelihood of family violence exists, the law in Puerto Rico stipulates37 23 that a gun licence should be denied or revoked

Firearm Safety Training

In Puerto Rico, an understanding of firearm safety and the law, tested in a theoretical and/or practical training course is required23 31 for a firearm licence

Gun Owner Licensing Period

In Puerto Rico, gun owners must re-apply and re-qualify for their firearm licence every five years23 31

Limit on Number of Guns

Licensed firearm owners in Puerto Rico are permitted to possess two firearms, with exceptions for hunting or sport23 39

Limit on Quantity, Type of Ammunition

Licensed firearm owners in Puerto Rico are permitted to possess only 50 rounds of ammunition per calendar year (with exceptions for hunting or sport)17 40

Firearm Registration

Civilian Gun Registration

In Puerto Rico, the law requires14 41 35 33 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 Puerto Rico, licensed firearm dealers are required13 15 41 to keep a record of each firearm or ammunition purchase, sale or transfer on behalf of a regulating authority

Gun Manufacturer Record Keeping

In Puerto Rico, licensed gun makers are required13 15 to keep a record of each firearm produced, for inspection by a regulating authority

Gun Sales and Transfers

Regulation of Private Gun Sales

In Puerto Rico, the private sale and transfer of firearms is prohibited unless conducted and registered by a licensed firearm dealer41 23 14 17

Regulation of Dealer Gun Sales

In Puerto Rico, dealing in firearms by way of business without a valid gun dealer’s licence is unlawful12 13 42 15 41 14 43 17

Storage and Transport of Guns and Ammunition

Firearm and Ammunition Storage Regulations - Private

Firearm regulations in Puerto Rico include23 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 Puerto Rico include13 44 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition by licensed arms dealers

Firearm and Ammunition Transport Regulations

Regulations in Puerto Rico include23 written specifications for the lawful safe storage of firearms and ammunition while in transit

Marking and Tracing Guns and Ammunition

Firearm Marking

In Puerto Rico, a unique identifying mark on each firearm is required by law with only narrow exemptions45 35

Firearm Tracing

In Puerto Rico, state authorities carry out46 recognised arms tracing and tracking procedures

Carrying Guns

Law Regulates Firearms in Public

In Puerto Rico, carrying a gun in a public place is regulated by law31

Carrying Guns Openly in Public

In Puerto Rico, carrying a firearm in plain view in a public place is prohibited23

Carrying Hidden Handguns in Public

In Puerto Rico, carrying a concealed firearm in a public place is allowed, subject to a valid permit23 31

Penalty for Illicit Firearm Possession

In Puerto Rico, the maximum penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm47 is five years in prison32 28 43 29 48 27 12 16 13 45 36 49 17

Collection, Amnesty and Destruction Programmes

Authorities in Puerto Rico are known to have50 51 52 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 Puerto Rico, the number of firearms voluntarily surrendered in recent arms amnesty and collection programmes is reported to be

2012: 40052

Firearms Surrendered and Seized

In Puerto Rico, the number of firearms voluntarily surrendered, bought back or seized by authorities is reported to be

2012: 17010

Destruction and Disposal Policy

In Puerto Rico, it is state policy53 to destroy surplus, collected and seized firearms rather than return them to the secondary arms market

MeasuresInternational Controls

United Nations Membership

In the UN List of Member States, Puerto Rico is not a Member State of the United Nations54

Wassenaar Arrangement

The Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls and Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies does not list55 Puerto Rico as a Participating State

BackgroundCountry Profile

Conflict Profile

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


Short References

1.

Karp, Aaron.2012.‘Estimated Civilian Gun Ownership.’ Measurement and Use of Statistical Data to Analyze Small Arms in the Caribbean and Latin America.Mexico City:United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Center of Excellence, National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI),28 April. (Q8972)Full Citation

2.

Karp, Aaron.2012.‘Country Analyses: Puerto Rico.’ Measurement and Use of Statistical Data to Analyze Small Arms in the Caribbean and Latin America.Mexico City:United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Center of Excellence, National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI),28 April. (Q11337)Full Citation

3.

North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics.2002.‘Question: Are any firearms now kept in or around your home? Include those kept in a garage, outdoor storage area, car, truck, or other motor vehicle.’ BRFSS Survey Results 2001 for Nationwide.Atlanta, GA:Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System / BRFSS, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / CDC,2 September. (Q8391)Full Citation

4.

Latin American Herald Tribune (Venezuela). 2013. ‘Puerto Rico Toughens Penalties For Shooting Into The Air.’ 3 December. (N406) Full Citation

5.

GunPolicy.org.2015.‘Calculated Rates - Puerto Rico.’ Historical Population Data - USCB International Data Base.Suitland, MD:US Census Bureau Population Division,17 December. (Q8735)Full Citation

6.

Karp, Aaron.2012.‘State Firearms Ownership.’ Measurement and Use of Statistical Data to Analyze Small Arms in the Caribbean and Latin America.Mexico City:United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Center of Excellence, National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI),28 April. (Q8973)Full Citation

7.

Jackson, Thomas.2005.‘Global Gun Deaths.’ NISAT Firearm Mortality Database 2005.Oslo:Norwegian Initiative on Small Arms Transfers,1 January. (Q12)Full Citation

8.

Igarapé Institute.2015.‘Homicides and Homicide Rates 2000 to 2014 - Puerto Rico.’ Homicide Monitor 2015.Rio de Janeiro:Igarapé Institute,24 June. (Q11121)Full Citation

9.

UNODC.2014.‘Homicides in Puerto Rico.’ Global Study on Homicide 2013: Trends, Context, Data.Vienna:United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC),10 April. (Q10128)Full Citation

10.

Washington Post / Associated Press. 2013. ‘US Officials Turn Focus of Smuggling Crackdown to High-Level Drug Traffickers in Puerto Rico.’ 27 September. (N407) Full Citation

11.

UNODC.2013.‘Homicide in 207 Countries - Puerto Rico.’ Global Study on Homicide 2011: Trends, Context, Data.Vienna:United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,26 June. (Q6357)Full Citation

12.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Manufacture, Importation, Sale and Distribution of Weapons.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11239)Full Citation

13.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Gunsmith License; Report of Transactions.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11231)Full Citation

14.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Electronic Register.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11227)Full Citation

15.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Conditions for Operations of Gunsmiths; Evidence of Transactions.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11234)Full Citation

16.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Manufacture, Distribution, Possession and Use [Ammunition].’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11251)Full Citation

17.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Sale of Ammunition to Persons Without a License; Limit in the Amount of Ammunition.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11273)Full Citation

18.

EFE News Agency. 2011. ‘Puerto Rico and US Federal Authorities Unite Against Arms Trafficking.’ 20 September. (N408) Full Citation

19.

Henry Pierson Curtis. 2008. ‘Illegal Guns Went to Puerto Rican Gangs, Agent Says.’ Orlando Sentinel (Florida). 19 March. (N409) Full Citation

20.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Interagency Committee Against the Illegal Traffic of Weapons.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11237)Full Citation

21.

Newton, George D and Franklin E Zimring.1969.‘Firearm Licensing: Permissive v Restrictive.’ Firearms & Violence in American Life: A staff report submitted to the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence.Washington, DC:US Government Printing Office,1 January. (Q22)Full Citation

22.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Firearms.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11342)Full Citation

23.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Weapons License.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11228)Full Citation

24.

USA.1970.‘Second Amendment to the Constitution.’ Constitution of the United States, The Bill of Rights.Washington, DC:Congress of the United States of America,1 January. (Q1954)Full Citation

25.

Scalia, J.2008.‘District of Columbia et al. v. Heller.’ Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.Washington, DC:Supreme Court of the United States,26 June. (Q8502)Full Citation

26.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Firearms.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11343)Full Citation

27.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Presumptions.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11246)Full Citation

28.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Possession or Illegal Use of Long Barreled Weapons Semi - Automatic and Automatic Weapons or Sawed-off Shotgun.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11244)Full Citation

29.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Trade in Automatic Firearms.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11241)Full Citation

30.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Semiautomatics.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11236)Full Citation

31.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Permits.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11229)Full Citation

32.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Possession Without a License.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11243)Full Citation

33.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Hunting Licenses.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11252)Full Citation

34.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Weapons License; Permits to Carry Weapons; Persons Exempted from Payment of the Voucher.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11230)Full Citation

35.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Collections of Weapons.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11272)Full Citation

36.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Weapons Within Reach of Minors.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11250)Full Citation

37.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Denial of License.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11270)Full Citation

38.

Puerto Rico.1971.‘Suspension or Revocation of License to Drive Motor Vehicles and License to Carry Firearms.’ Controlled Substances Act of Puerto Rico.San Juan:Puerto Rico,23 June. (Q11269)Full Citation

39.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Limit to the Number of Weapons.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11271)Full Citation

40.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Sale of Ammunition to Persons Without a License; Limit in the Amount of Ammunition.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11255)Full Citation

41.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Registry of Weapons; Loss, Surrender or Transfer of Firearms; Death of the License Holder.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11235)Full Citation

42.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Requirements [Dealer License].’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11233)Full Citation

43.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Prohibition of Sale to Unlicensed Persons.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11240)Full Citation

44.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Storage and Custody of Firearms in Weapons and Ammunitions Depots.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11247)Full Citation

45.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Serial Number or Name of Owner on Firearm; Removal or Mutilation.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11245)Full Citation

46.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Tracking and Analysis Center.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11238)Full Citation

47.

GunPolicy.org. 2015. ‘Penalty for Unlawful Firearm Possession.’ Definition and Selection Criteria.
Sydney School of Public Health, 23 January.
(G93) Full Citation

48.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Carrying and Using Firearms Without a License.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11242)Full Citation

49.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Firing or Pointing Weapons.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11248)Full Citation

50.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Moratorium and Amnesty.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11254)Full Citation

51.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Educational Advertising Campaign.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11253)Full Citation

52.

IANSA. 2012. ‘Puerto Rico: Government and Faith Groups Cooperate in Successful Gun Amnesty.’ International Action Network on Small Arms / IANSA. 15 March. (N415) Full Citation

53.

Puerto Rico.2000.‘Receipt, Custody and Disposal of Weapons Deposited or Seized by the Police; Destruction.’ Puerto Rico Arms Act of 2000.San Juan:Puerto Rico,11 September. (Q11249)Full Citation

54.

UN.2013.‘Member States of the United Nations.’ UN.org Web Site.New York, NY:United Nations General Assembly,7 April. (Q290)Full Citation

55.

Wassenaar Arrangement.1996.‘Introduction: Participating States.’ Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls and Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies.Vienna:Wassenaar Secretariat,12 July. (Q19)Full Citation