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What is gun control like in Ecuador?

07 de mayo de 2013 13:29

Most guns used by citizens Ecuador are still handmade.

Manufacturing guns in Ecuador has been illegal since Feb. 2012. However, most private security companies are still arming their guards with locally-made weapons acquired before February 2012.

In recent years, efforts to register and decommission guns that dont meet safety standards have increased. Last year, in most populated province Guayas, 9,958 guns were registered. In Pichincha in 2012: 9,145 guns. In Ecuador, there are 167,102 registered weapons as of 2012. 

Gun control in Ecuador is carried out by the Gun Control Unit of the Armed Forces. They handle the registry, and they certify gun holders.

In Pichincha, 200 guns are examined a week by the gun control unit. A gun must pass inspection, after which the person or institution that presented it is granted a permit to own and carry the gun. There are two varieties of permit: an ownership permit (for having a gun at home. These guns can be transported unloaded, inside a box or bag in the trunk of a vehicle) and a carry permit, (permits the holder to openly wear the loaded weapon within specified boundaries).

According to army records, of the 200 weapons checked in a given week, on average 24 do not pass inspection. These guns are collected to later be destroyed.

The main purpose of gun control in Ecuador is to control the illegal traffic of weapons across international borders. Many guns go through Ecuador to end up in the hands of the FARC, the Colombian guerrilla army.

But the ubiquity of guns headed to the FARC leads to an increase in local crime, such as contract killings (“sicariatos”), drug trafficking and robbery.

Capt. Edmundo Mora, from Pichincha’s Gun Control Unit, says that recently a month-long investigation led to a raid on a small-scale handmade gun factory in Azuay. Forty shotguns, five long guns, two rifles, 11 handguns, 22 metal tubes, and six wooden butts were confiscated.

Colonel Washington Buñay, national head of the gun control unit, says that Ecuador uses a South America-wide database to verify and follow-up on the manufacture, origin and traffic of weapons.

When a weapon is confiscated because the owner’s permit is expired or out of order in any way, the owner has 90 days to get it back. After this period, the guns will be slated for destruction.

Guns are destroyed twice a year. Most of the guns that get melted down are surrended voluntarily.

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