I have a house on the beach near the hospital in Puntarenas. The area is relatively safe in the daytime, but at night it becomes dangerous. The worst time is between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. This seems to be because when the idiot crackheads have spent their money and need more for their next hit, they’ll do anything to get a couple of dollars.
I spoke to a lawyer years ago about self-protection. He told me in very specific terms that if I shot someone, make sure that he dies on my property. If he does not, regardless of blood trails and other evidence, I was going to jail for a long time. He also explained the relation of unregistered firearms and jail time. I have no desire to have a firearm in my residence. I rely on a machete, and plan on obtaining a crossbow, with an Infrared sight. A crossbow is probably a nastier weapon than is a firearm, at least until you get up to a 50 caliber automatic machinegun. It also requires no licensing procedures.
Self-protection when outside your property is quite another matter. This sort of thing then depends on the attitude of the investigating organization, OIJ, and how they feel that particular day. I once talked with someone who had spent 12 years in preventive detention for defending himself and his wife when out in public. As has been published here in A.M. Costa Rica, there is a man, an expatriate and business owner in La Fortuna, who went to jail, was let out and now has to report to the Fiscalia (prosecutor) every week until his case is resolved. And this apparently happened while a known thief and drug addict was trying to steal his car.