Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library
Karp, Aaron. 2012 ‘Country Analyses: Costa Rica.’ Measurement and Use of Statistical Data to Analyze Small Arms in the Caribbean and Latin America; Section IV, p. 20. Mexico City: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Center of Excellence, National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI). 28 April
Although it is well-off by regional standards and famous for its lack of an army, Costa Rica is not immune to broader Latin American trends of gun violence. Firearms ownership is rising, albeit slower than elsewhere in the region, and tico culture appears to be more comfortable with registering firearms.
In 1998 there were 149,423 registered civilian guns in Costa Rica. Today the total is closer to 206,912.(44) Police seizures suggest roughly half of all crime guns are unregistered.(45) This is significantly less than the ratio of 3 to 1 found in most of the region. At one illicit firearm for every registered gun, this translates as roughly 400,000 civilian firearms total. This would mean the country has 8.6 civilian firearms for every 100 people.
Another area where Costa Rica stands out is the remarkably low rate of state small arms ownership. State inventories are equal to 0.1 firearms for every 100 residents, the lowest state rate in all of Latin America. The lack of a military - a characteristic now shared with Panama - and a small police system do not isolate Costa Rica from problems of official firearms seen elsewhere. Official weapons are a target for theft, for example, and security has been a serious problem. After 215 pistols were stolen from police storage in early 2012, some were recovered in Panama.(46)
44) 206,912 registered in 2011, Ana Yancy Espinoza, Arms Trafficking in Latin America: a qualitative perspective on the phenomenon - 1, unpublished manuscript for UNODC, Mexico City, 2012, p. 28. In 1998 there were 149,423 registered guns in the United Nations International Study on Firearm Regulation. Vienna: UN Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Division. 1999.
45) « Costarricenses se inclinan por pena de muerte ante violencia », Veracruzanos, 25 Septiembre 2011.
46) "17 Guns Stolen From Tránsito Recovered in Panama", Inside Costa Rica, 18 February 2012.