Firearms in Costa Rica
May 24, 2013
Lush and fertile tropical jungles, warm Pacific waters, hundreds of exotic birds and wildlife… Costa Rica is almost always synonymous with paradise on earth.
Costa Rica is a calm, laid-back country that maintains friendly relations with it’s neighboring countries as well as both the US and Canada. In fact, it’s such a calm country, that it’s been without an army since it was abolished in 1949. Unfortunately, this does not guarantee a lack of guns in Costa Rica.
Just like the majority of countries around the world, Costa Rica is on a mission to tighten gun control. Although not a ‘new’ directive, earlier this year the Costa Rican government began an awareness campaign to run in conjunction with new gun law reforms tabled by the President, Laura Chinchilla. These reforms have been discussed in Costa Rica’s government for many years, and are currently facing a vote in the Legislative Assembly.
If (or when?) these reforms pass, the changes will mean only one gun allowed per home, no guns allowed in bars or schools, prohibit anyone with a history of domestic violence to ever own a gun and the penalty of owning an illegal firearm would mean 8 years in prison.
Some people will say this is just common sense. After all, what purpose do guns have in a school? And a bar… well, it’s not difficult to imagine the possible consequences when alcohol and firearms are combined.
Naturally, the proposition of this new reform is met with mixed reviews. There are some who feel that these strict new laws – and the government’s destruction of over 3000 confiscated weapons – will have no impact on Costa Rica’s crime rate. Similar to other country’s challenges, gun violence in Costa Rica is primarily related to drugs in urban areas, and the majority of guns used in these cases are not legally registered anyway. So will this reform really make a difference?
It’s not as though these reforms are coming from out of the blue… there has been talk in Costa Rica’s government about initiating these reforms for years. In the past, funding may have been an issue, but that has changed of late. With a huge portion of the funding coming from civil associations, the private sector and even the Canadian government, it’s an interesting theory to believe that expats who now make Costa Rica their home, may have something to do with this. Especially since the majority of those who have moved here, have done so to get away from crime-ridden urban areas in North America.
Time will tell… the reform has yet to be passed, and with President Chinchilla’s term coming to a close, the push is likely on to get it done before she vacates her seat.
Hunting in Costa Rica
In December of 2012, Costa Rica became the first Latin American country to ban hunting as a sport. Anyone caught can face jail-time or a hefty fine of $3000. The only exceptions to this new law include indigenous groups who hunt for sustenance and government-forced hunts to control overpopulation – a near inevitability if the law is followed.
Under the same law, anyone caught capturing or stealing wild animals for pets or sale will also be punished. Costa Rica cherishes its biodiversity and the thousands of birds, animals and reptiles within it. Foreign hunters travel to Costa Rica in search of exotic cats and colorful birds to sell on the black market.
In the grand scheme of things, the majority (if not all) expats now living in Costa Rica will support these new reforms 100%. After all, common sense plays a huge part in maintaining your personal safety, no matter where you live.
Both of our Developer partner’s communities in Costa Rica – the Nicoya Peninsula and the Southern Zone – are located in serene, rural settings. Crime is essentially non-existent (especially anything involving a gun), and the local fauna is cherished and admired. Aside from affordable real estate in these beautiful areas of the country, these Developers are cognoscente of this and purposely have hundreds of acres set aside that will never be developed.
To check out these beautiful areas of Costa Rica for yourself, book a Discovery Weekend!