President Chinchilla seeks to tighten firearms rules

A panel from the You Tube video

Coincidental with similar announcements in the United States, President Laura Chinchilla Miranda said Wednesday that her administration seeks to tighten up its control on firearms.

The president’s staff will present revised legislation to a legislative committee that already is studying changes in the firearms laws.

In addition, Casa Presidencial will orchestrate a publicity campaign to prevent armed violence. The campaign will urge mothers to keep firearms out of the house and tell youngsters that firearms do not provide respect, just problems.

Among the legislative proposals is that the holder of a license to carry a firearm will have to obtain and pay for a type of insurance policy to compensate for possible damages.

The campaign is being supported by the Fundación para La Paz y la Democracia, the government of Canada and various private firms.

President Chinchilla’s announcement came about the same time that U.S. President Barack Obama was outlining his campaign against firearms.

Ms. Chinchilla, when she was vice president in 2009, crafted gun control measures for then president Óscar Arias Sánchez. The proposals at that time were to prevent the manufacture of any gun parts on Costa Rican soil and to keep weapons out of the hands of anyone under 18 years.

Her proposal also would have limited the number of weapons anyone could possess legally to one.

A year ago,  Celso Gamboa, vice minister of security, issued a directive with the goal of tightening gun restrictions and fixing gaps in the national gun registry. At the time he said that persons with criminal backgrounds were being issued gun permits even though that is against the law.

Casa Presidencial posted campaign videos on You Tube Tuesday. One showed a lineup of youthful figures being hit with bullets. A voiceover said not to permit firearms in the home. It said 172 young people died from firearms last year.

Three viewer comments were negative and one asked how many of the youngsters killed by firearms were criminals.

“I am announcing that we have a broad consensus to enable us to present a substitute text before the Comisión de Seguridad that permits us to promote greater regulations for firearms in the country,” said the president at a press conference.

The government already is on record promoting a U.N. arm limitation treaty.

The president said that 3,675 firearms were destroyed last year and that officials will continue preventative efforts especially in high-risk communities.

It was Marcela Chacón, a vice minister of Gobernación, who outlined the new proposals.

She said that Costa Rica would abide by legal
stipulations in international treaties it has signed. She said that anyone who seeks to register or seek permission to have a firearm will have to have an insurance policy. In addition, persons with a history of family violence would be prohibited from having a weapon.

It was she who said that one emphasis would be to have mothers keep weapons out of the home. She also said that women who might be murdered by their partner or ex-partner also should keep weapons out of the household.

Youngsters who are the population most affected by armed violence and the group most likely to arm themselves will be urged not to do so, she said.

The publicity campaign will include 200 posters in the metro area, signs on 75 tables at food courts at three commercial centers, 30-second radio spots and three videos in social media. The publicity is being donated. The campaign also will be brought to school children.

Youngsters made up 10.6 percent of murder victims in 2011, said officials. They also said that 55 percent of weapons confiscated are legal, according to the Dirección General de Armamento. That may be because if a homeowner shoots a burglar, the weapon is confiscated at least for a time.

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