Just how many firearms are on the street?
From the daily activities of the police, the answer has to be a bunch. Fuerza Pública officers confiscated four over the weekend. And that does not include weapons other agencies turn up when they make drug raids or other arrests.
Who would even think of running a drug operation without some heavy duty firearms nearby?
In addition there were about a dozen shootings, some fatal, over the weekend.
With the change in the legislature, former president Laura Chinchilla’s restrictive firearms bill appears to be dead. Many felt that her approach of taking weapons from the law abiding was not the correct one.
Typically when an individual is caught carrying a firearm on the streets police take the weapons. They have a large collection at any one time. Periodically the firearms are cut up in a made-for-television publicity event under the auspices of the United Nations. There seems to be only a few court cases generated by the confiscations.
Despite police action, the flow of firearms is not diminished. One firearm confiscated from a man in front of a bar in La Unión, Cartago, over the weekend had been stolen from a security company several days earlier.
Guards are easy targets, too, and most carry firearms. Only the most uncreative crook has to resort to making his own weapon. They tape together a couple of steel tubes that are about 12-gauge diameter. One weapon confiscated last month could only be fired by pulling a string.
Not every person with a firearm is a crook. In rural areas, police frequently encounter hunters and take their weapons. Plenty of expats have unregistered pistols or shotguns close at hand in their homes. Sometimes they are caught.
The complexities of the country’s firearms laws were highlighted last week when the public watchdog declared that all police officers were carrying weapons illegally. The report came from the Contraloría General de la República. The reasons were technical, but the weapons still were being carried illegally, the report said.
Police officials had been certifying their own officers instead of sending them through the lengthy process citizens and residents must face. In addition, the police were being certified to carry a firearm for four years instead of the legal limit of two.
Among those detained over the weekend were three men who are believed to have been involved in a shooting spree on Avenida Primera around Calle 9.
Police caught them near the Caribbean bus station, but it appears they had ditched the weapon. All police found was a .25-caliber magazine.