High court say police should only carry light firearms

The Sala Primera ruled that police officers should not carry powerful firearms unless officers are members of special units that take on organized crime.

In one of its more controversial rulings, the high criminal court threw out a directive by the executive branch allowing police officers to carry weapons other than .22-caliber, .38-caliber and 9-mm.

The Poder Judicial issued a clarification Wednesday over the decision which took most police officers by surprise.

The Poder Judicial said that the Sala Primera recognizes that the law gives the executive branch the power to regulate the use of weapons. But the court said the existing decree allows police to indiscriminately carry heavier weapons on a daily basis.
This is a violation of the law because police carrying such weapons exposes citizens to risk, said the summary by the Poder Judicial.

The court ordered the executive branch to issue within a month a more reasonable decree outlining the use of weapons.

The court says it did not prohibit the use of weapons but only rejected a decree that provides for the use of heavy weaponry.

Criminals frequently have access to AK-47 automatic rifles, Uzi submachine guns and even heavier armament. Fuerza Pública officers sometimes carry rifles when guarding prisoners or large stashes of drugs.

The court ruling would seem to apply to all police agencies, including the Judicial Investigating Organization and the anti-drug police.

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