The security ministry reported this week that its officers confiscated 340 firearms in the first four months of the year.
Not all the confiscations followed shootouts like the one Monday in San Rafael Abajo de Desamparados when a gunman fired on police.
Only 15 of the confiscated guns came from drug raids. Almost always when the Fuerza Pública and the Policía de Control de Drogas officers conduct raids, they find weapons. That makes sense. Drug dealers and producers are big crime targets and keep weapons around to protect themselves and their stash of cash.
Expats can draw some conclusions from the police report:
1. Plenty of people are carrying weapons illegally. If police officers found more than 300 weapons simply by stopping and frisking individuals on the street, the number of unregistered weapons must be much higher.
2. A high percentage of these weapons are carried for self-protection as are all sorts of knives.
3. The poor and youngsters make their own firearms. Police said the ministry statistics show that some of the confiscated weapons were made in Costa Rican workshops. Several major criminal gangs also use the services of specialists who can make guns that then become untraceable.
The gangs also export these specialists to other countries for the same purpose.
4. The complex gun rules generally can cause people to carry illegal firearms instead of going through the lengthy process to obtain permission from the Ministerio de Seguridad Pública. Frequently private guards are found with illegal weapons.
5. Expats should remember the next time they shout out the window of their car to a driver who has cut them off that there is a good chance the offending motorist is packing a weapon.
Police said that they thought the man arrested in Desamparados was a hitman trying to commit a murder. They said the man fired 18 shots at another individual who is suspected to be a major drug dealer.
The presumed victim was injured but lived. He was hospitalized.
The gunman received a bullet in the leg from police and also received medical treatment.