Citation(s) from the literature library

Karp, Aaron. 2012 ‘Country Analyses: Chile.’ Measurement and Use of Statistical Data to Analyze Small Arms in the Caribbean and Latin America; Section IV, pp. 18-19. Mexico City: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Center of Excellence, National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI). 28 April

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Chile offers the best documented case in Latin America of declining interest among the public in acquiring additional firearms. As the table below shows, Chileans register more firearms every year, but the rate of increase - over an admittedly short time - is declining, from 7 percent growth in 2003-2005, to 2 percent growth during the three year period in 2006-2009. The decline in purchases of new guns has been widely observed, including in the country's periodic poll of public attitudes, which found a decline in the percentage of individuals acknowledging they own a gun, dropping from 5.3 percent to 4.9 percent.(29) Similarly, gun sales reportedly fell 57 percent over the past five years. In 2006 there were 10,235 new guns registered, while in 2010 the Chilean public registered 4,353 gun purchases.(30) Declining public interest in firearms may explain greater receptiveness for various gun control proposals, such as the plan to prohibit guns at public events.(31)

Even as sales of new guns decline, Chilean society harbors an impressive inventory of registered and unregistered guns. Among the latter were an estimated 750,000 to 1,300,000 unregistered in 2002, a number that probably has grown considerably in the decade since.(32) While new gun buying is going down overall, sectors of society are spending more. The clearest contrast is an increase in the proportion of wealthy Chileans owning guns, which rose from 9.5 percent to 13.8 percent.(33) Also not captured in this data is the strong market among poorer Chileans for cheap craft guns, none of which normally get registered.(34)

The biggest growth area in Chilean gun culture may be the state security services. With the help of the country's famous Copper Law of 1958 (Ley Reservada del Cobre), the military has access to exceptional financing, enough to sustain continuous procurement of highly modern equipment. The Army, for example, continues to purchase the locally manufactured version of the Swiss SIG-540 rifle, perhaps the most costly military rifle in standard use, and smaller numbers of American M4 carbines for special forces and other elite units…


29) "Chile faces a domestic arms race with rise in gun ownership", UPI, 13 April 2012.

30) Amanda Reynoso-Palley, "Arms sales down in Chile but the wealthy guard their homes with guns", Santiago Times, 13 April 2011.

31) "Presentan proyecto para restringir porte de armas de fuego", Terra (Chile) 21 Julio 2011.

32) Pablo Dreyfus, et al., Small Arms Control in Mercosur (London: International Alert, June 2003), p. 40.

33) "Chile faces a domestic arms race with rise in gun ownership", UPI, 13 April 2012.

34) "Chile," Small Arms Survey 2006: Unfinished Business (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), Ch.3, pp. 85.

ID: Q11606

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