Sala IV rejects pensionado’s bid to renew weapons permit

The Sala IV constitutional court has declined to rule on the facts of the case of a pensionado resident who was stripped of his 10-year-old right to carry a firearm by a presidential decree.

The case received a mention Monday in a summary of court activities released by the Poder Judicial. The pensionado resident was not named, but his argument was that he has been a resident here for 20 years and has had a carry permit for firearms for 10 years.

In July when he went to renew his permit, he was denied by the Sección de Armas y Explosivos del Ministerio de Gobernación, Policía y Seguridad Pública.

The firearms devision said that the right to carry a firearm had been limited to citizens and to only those foreigners who have permanent residency free of conditions. That change was made in February 2010.

The expat called the decree discriminatory and damaging to his fundamental rights.
The Sala IV said that the legal conflict was outside of its area of competence. It said the constitutional court could not determine the requirements and conditions that are necessary for issuing or renewing a firearms weapon permit.

The court appears to have stopped short of considering the right to self defense to be a human right. That is a strong theory in Anglo-Saxon law. The U.S. Supreme Court said in 2008 and in 2010 that the U.S. Constitution protects an individual’s right to have a weapon. The Costa Rican Constitution does not include a similar clause, but the Sala IV usually is friendly to human rights arguments.

The Costa Rican central government is seeking to restrict gun ownership to reduce crime. At the same time, more citizens are purchasing firearms because they do not believe that the current police practices protect them.

In the last month at least six bandits have been gunned down by armed citizens and law men who were carrying weapons. A Judicial Investigating Organization agent died last week when he was confronted by a gunman in Alajuelita and because did not have his own weapons.

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