By JAS

A very close friend of mine is an attorney living in Puerto Rico. He loves to shoot and has a multitude of expensive rifles, shotguns and pistols. A little local background first. In Puerto Rico, every single firearm and every ammunition transaction must be registered. Firearms and ammunition can only be purchased by holders of a target shooting license, with or without a concealed carry permit. Hunting licenses are a separate matter. You still must have a target license in order to have a concealed carry permit.  The target license is where all the firearms are registered.  The target license also lists the guns you decide to carry separately . . .

You can only buy ammunition in a caliber or gauge fitting one of your registered guns. Applications for target shooting licenses take anywhere from six months to a year. Concealed carry permits can only be issued by a judge. You have to hire an attorney who specializes in the law so that a document can be presented to the court showing that the applicant is indeed in strong need of a concealed permit. Needless to say there aren’t many of those around.

The whole process can run from seven hundred to a couple of thousand dollars plus attorney’s fees. The administration of licenses and permits is handled by the Puerto Rico state police. My friend has both a target license and a carry permit.

This morning he went to his LGS to buy some 12 gauge sporting clays rounds. When the owner of the LGS entered his license on the computer he looked up at him and told him, “I’m sorry, I can’t sell you any shells, both your license and carry permit have been cancelled.” He couldn’t believe it. He asked why and the LGS owner said he didn’t know. He recommended my friend go to the State Police HQ to figure it out.

So he did, and this is what they told him. The attorney he hired to get his concealed carry permit many, many years in the past had been arrested the week before for supposedly presenting falsified documents to the court  in one of the concealed carry cases he brought in front of the judge. The judge not only had him arrested, he nullified all of the carry permits that were issued with the intervention of this particular attorney.

The judge then ordered the State Police to follow through with the order. The State Police immediately cancelled five thousand or so concealed carry permits. Part of the order called for the transfer the concealed carry permits guns to the holders’ target licenses as target guns. This turned into an insurmountable task, dealing with over five thousand very angry people. Here is where the whole thing really went south.

The Chief of the State Police took the whole thing into his own hands and ordered that all concealed carry permits and all target licenses owned by these five thousand people be immediately cancelled. He also ordered deputies to go to the licensees homes and collect all of the firearms and all ammunition.

My friend called today to tell me the story. He’ll taking all of his guns into his FFL tomorrow morning and the the firearms are being shipped to my FFL here in the U.S. for safekeeping until he can figure the whole thing out. Or until he can move back to States.

How do like them registration apples?

93 Responses to This is What Happens When You Register Your Guns

  1. sounds like those 5,000 people have serious issues with this Nazi police chief and maybe less so with the judge.

    • Did you read the article? The whole policy is Nazi…as if a judge should have the authority to tell someone that they can carry a concealed gun!

      Until people wake up and realize this whole thing is a farce then we deserve this kind of treatment.

    • No the police chief has less than 3 months in the position puerto rico switches police chief around once a year. We still haven’t found somebody that is competent enough to do the job without being a politician.

    • Historical background – These Draconian laws were enacted in response to the 1950s failed Revolution for independence from US rule.
      In the 1980s the war on drugs kept them alive. In 2000 the were somewhat flexibilitized. In 2015 declared unconstitutional but the Government is apealing.

  2. Do Puerto Rican citizens somehow not get 2nd Amendment protections? Also…this anecdote would be more creditable with a link to a news source.

    • Puerto Rico is a protectorate, not a state. As such, they are not technically part of the US. A bit of an oversimplification, but think of them as a self-governing colony of the US.

      • But they do have US Citizenship. As such, doesn’t the Bill of Rights apply? Never mind that these are natural rights we all are supposed to enjoy

        • The argument for natural rights is one thing; the argument for Constitutional Rights is another. They are also Puerto Rican citizens who, more importantly, live in Puerto Rico. And since Puerto Rico is a self-governing body, that’s where the waters get muddy.

        • Hello, gentlemen:

          Just to clear up a few points: We Puerto Ricans are Puerto Rican citizens like Alaskans are Alaskan citizens. All Puerto Ricans became U.S. nationals after the U.S. acquired Puerto Rico from Spain after the Spanish-American War. Then, in 1917 the Jones-Shafroth Act made us U.S. citizens.

          Then came along the Nationality Act of 1940, which defined those persons who were “eligible for citizenship through birth or naturalization” and clarified “the status of individuals and their children born or residing in the continental U.S., its territories such as Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Philippines, Panama and the Canal Zone, or abroad.”

          This legislation included specific provisions that extended birthright citizenship to all persons born in the island after 1941. For the purposes of this act, Puerto Rico was distinguished from other outlying or unincorporated territories and became a geographical part of the United States (Section 101d). In addition, Section 202 extended birthright or jus soli citizenship to all persons born in the island without any restrictions.

          As things stand, all island-born Puerto Ricans are born into U.S. citizenship.

        • *have, not enjoy. I cannot enjoy a lot of people’s first amendment right, but we all still have it.

        • Jacob, I was trying to be positive/sarcastic. I also purposely left it in to see who caught it.

        • Indeed, U.S. citizenship is not relevant with respect to rights, even constitutionally. (E.g., your citizenship doesn’t impact whether you may publish a newspaper.)

          Citizenship is relevant to privileges.

          What’s relevant are questions of whether PR is “really” in the States, and whether rights in PR (and elsewhere) are being treated as privileges regardless.

        • It works like DC surrounded by an ocean, but the USSC hasn’t caught on there yet. Except when the justices go there on vacation.

        • Bill of Rights? Wasn’t that repealed?
          Must have been since they are setablishin First Amendment Zones as the only places free speech is allowed

        • From my understanding. Puerto. Rico Is in the same category as Guam. Guam just passed a shall issue ccw (converted from may issue) based on the 9th couts ruling in the San Diego case judging that without a. Secondary option for people to carry in public (oc’ing) the may issue requirements infringe on the second amendment. It is my understanding that a US citizen bears all rights granted to him by the constitution in all states and territories.

    • Since Puerto Rico is not a state of the United States, but rather a “territory” or some such term, from a legal perspective they’re still a separate entity and thus, have their own laws that are not superseded by the United States Constitution.

      • That’s incorrect the mc donald decision applies to puerto rico and we are us citizen therefore YES we do get all the bill of rights. And if there is a disagreement or contrary law federal law trumphs territory law.

        • What Anner said.

          Also, we have a United States Disctrict Court for the District of Puerto Rico [with !gasp! real Article III federal judges, unlike those a few islands over in the U.S.V.I.] and which forms part of the First Circuit for United States Court of Appeals purposes.

        • Well, you have the rights under those amendments which have been found under incorporation to be limitations an state governments. Like the rest of US citizens- “..3rd Amendments, the grand jury indictment clause of the 5th Amendment, and the 7th Amendmen…’ have not been incorporated under the 14th amendment as limitations on state government.

    • I have lived in Puerto Rico and I am surprised how much gun control is allowed to continue there. But a friend who lives there told me this..and this is just his personal opinion, that they have been affected by liberal agendas just as African Americans were in the 60’s, getting put into gov housing projects, and the anti-gun movement rolled right in with it. Just like the welfare state destroyed minority and inner city areas, the same was done wholesale to Puerto Rico. I agree with his theory. It is a huge welfare state, and liberal agendas rule, along with the corruption which has the status quo wanting it to stay that way.

      Some Puerto Ricans I talk to naively think that giving people easier access to guns will make their island more violent than it already is. It is corrupt, and dangerous. Its like Chicago, on a tropical island.
      A challenge to their laws via the Supreme Court would win them more gun rights, but the majority of the people have been brainwashed that guns, not individuals, cause the violence that plagues them. It seems like it’s a right that very few care about, and those individuals have chosen not to fight it. I really wish they would, but with a corrupt territorial government and a huge crime problem, their media will shoot it down and the shooters down there do not have the resources, support or time to fight it. I believe their gun laws would be shot down as unconstitutional in a heart beat. But as a territory, nobody seems to pay them much attention.

      • PR is a beautiful place with many great people, a long and interesting history – that has been totally ravaged by the policies you describe. It’s sad, really. I go there for work from time to time, mostly in San Juan. The amount of garbage littering the shores, broken down buildings and infrastructure, and crime, is all very shameful.

        Additionally I have never seen so many people asleep on the job. When working in PR, I’m on board some of the cargo ships that come into Puerto Nuevo. Dozens of longshore workers come on board, set down a sheet of cardboard in a shady spot on board the ship, and sleep for hours. Now I’ve also lived in Spain, so I’m familiar with the “siesta culture,” but this is downright absurd. Most of them I’m told are on welfare, and probably don’t even need to work, so they don’t care if they’re fired – which will never happen because they’re protected by the ILWU.

        All these gun restrictions, and PR is one of the few places I’ve been advised to not go out at night, since I’m a “gringo.” However I’ve never had any problems in and around old San Juan, being a tall & fit younger guy.

        Ironically, if anything happened to me, it would probably be being shot.

      • The Law that we currently have is unconstitutional, yes, and we are fighting to revoke it. And believe me when I say we Fight!, The gun law we currently have started in the year 2000 what we had before was even worst. Last year we presented a gun bill, according to the right, in senate and was approved only to be killed in the House. We are struggling here. We have the problem as you mention of the brain washed of the people against guns.

  3. Great example of what a bureaucrat can do. The values of one man having dominion over the many. No registration EVER.

  4. dear flying spaghetti monster thats just absurd. I mean seriously i can’t even get that concept of mass collection into my head.

    Thanks, really that just woke me up, more so than i was.

  5. I was arrested for being a different political party in MD. Now that is apples. I did nothing wrong. The Judge found me not guilty and said it was wrong to arrest me. The State’s Atty. Removed what he said from the transcript. I was told if I was smart I wouldn’t fight it and leave the county. I have the proof.

    • Cost me $6,000 in New Jersey. And that’s only for my FPID. Still cant buy any pistols and cant carry at all. No pistol ammo either so I cant get carbines chambered in any pistol caliber. I had an order of 7.62 X 54r canceled on me once because the vendor was worried it would be considered pistol ammo.

  6. Never ascribe to malice what is usually due to incompetence.

    As powerfull as the notion is of a craven of antis itching to seize people’s guns at the first excuse, that’s probably not what’s at work here-or in the East Coast of the US.

    See, it’s all about rules and regulations. People in government for the most part don’t care about ideology. They just like rules, and ones which make what they have to do easy to spell out. One bureaucratic tenet is, when in doubt, shut everything down. Better pissed off people and riots in the street then to cross ” Regulations ” and end up censured or fired.

    Since gun ownership in the case of PR is tied to a rigid system of rules, when something happens outside of the rules, everyone goes into CYA mode-and that usually means just cancelling everyones privlidges unless someone higher up steps in. Leaving gun rights to bureaucrats means, eventually, a circumstance will arise where said bureaucrats will ban guns . Why?

    Because the rules said so.

  7. Words can’t explain the absolute ridiculous of what happened to 5,000 people getting there licenses revoked because of a crooked lawyer.

  8. BTW some corrections you can have a concealed carry permit without target practice permit.
    But is pointless since it let’s you have only 3 guns and buy only 50 bullets a year for all 3 guns….
    The cost for a target practice permit is just 10$ after spending 100$ for the basic weapon license everybody pays 10$ for the benefit of buying as many guns as you want and as many ammo as you want and letting you carry it in the trunk without a police chief permit.

    Additionally conceal carry lawyers are not on shortage they are practically in every county/city the cheapest one charging 650$ for his legal fees + the 200$ for the conceal carry permit fee for the state. Additionally you can do the process pro se. Without a lawyer but I tried it and the judge basically asked me how much I earn/what do I work on. When I told him software engineering he said yeah you have to pay a lawyer… I didn’t feel like arguing with him but his making sure his good buddy lawyer friends are getting customers.

    You can acquire all 3 licenses for 1,120$ it’s expensive for what the cost should be (free) but is not thousands of dollar.

    • Correction to the correction….

      You are allowed 2, not 3 guns if you only have a license with no categories (2.02-D)

      Gun doesn’t need to be transported in the trunk, and no police chief permit is needed for transporting your guns. All that the law requires is for the gun to be stored unloaded in a container that won’t reveal it’s content and out of sight (2.02-D.2).

      So technically your gun box inside a backpack on the back seat is legal. Previous law required you to notify police if you where transporting them… and you WHERE only permited to transport guns to the range and back.. not so with the 404.

  9. In Illinois right now you are having a not too different situation developing. For a while now Cook County Clown I mean Sheriff Tom “Lawn” Dart has been going to peoples homes with suspended/revoked FOIDS and asking for their guns and ammo, getting search warrants when they are not handed over willingly.

    Now we are running into situations where people are applying for Concealed Carry Licences, being denied because of false information, mixed up identities and BS objections by local LEO’s. Some of those people are having their FOID cards automatically revoked as well.

    No doubt if they live in gun-unfriendly areas they can expect a knock on their door sooner or later from local law enforcement.

    • Just to be clear; I, and I believe many others, will act predictably when uniformed police show up at my door to confiscate my guns, REGARDLESS OF THE EXCUSE!! Someone will die.

      And remember, if we can save one life…

  10. Have a standing offer to live in PR for very little $. After reading this article there is NO f@@@ing way. Oh well I probably couldn’t handle tropical weather.

  11. I Showed the other side. They said that happens all the time and they can’t get involved in court matters.

  12. One more thing:

    The wait time for basic and target shooting licenses is capped by law at four months. After that, the PRPD is obligated to emit your license. I got mine in 90 days. The process is infringing, bloated, burdensome, needlessly expensive and all, but lets get the details right.

    Wait times of over one year weren’t unheard of with the old firearms law, but that one was superseded 14 years ago.

    • I talked to my friend last night and he said you are correct. What he told me applied to the time when he got his license and permit. That was a looong time ago. The thing about the affidavits has not changed. And not only do you have to get the affidavits, those people must go to the hearing in front of the judge with you to be questioned, and, they all must submit a “government issued certificate of good conduct” whatever that is.

      • They don’t… and they do… LOL

        Some judges will ask for it.. some judges won’t… some judges will ask for a medical certificate and some wont… some judges will come up with very creative requirements, simply because “they can”.

        Your only options at that time are either to comply with their stupid requests and be done with it or spent every penny you have suing the system.

        Needless to say people choose to comply.

        It all depends on the judge and the mood he wokes up.

        PS.. In PR you might be required one of those certificates when applying for jobs and such.. It’s lists wheter you have a clean record or not. Sad thing about it is that the police departments asks for one as part of the process… even when the info can be obtained from their own systems when conducting the investigation.

        You where able to get this certificate online until someone found out that you could get a clan record simply by entering another’s person social security number… the system only verified that the SS# had a clean record but never bothered to check the person’s name. Therefore you could have a certificate with your name on it and another’s person SS and they wouldn’t even bother checking since you had an “official” certificate…

        Now you need to go to a police station and pay for them to issue the certificate.. you need to present your ID and SS card to do so.

  13. You must not be very bright if you register all your gats. After/during the war many people hid their good stuff while giving a clunker or two to the UN (sorta like gun “buy-backs”). Mainly because the UN/NATO troops would think “we checked that place already, there is nothing left there”.

    • There’s plenty of unregistered firearms around to be had, but it’s a felony to posses them.

      All firearms arriving through legal channels are registered at the dealer level. Private sales also have to go through a licensed dealer in order to transfer ownership in the PRPD Registry. Luckily, they don’t require a background check. Yet.

      • Like I said:

        Hide most of your real (unregistered) guns and get simulators and real guns similar to your main stash. These ones you use for competition/plinking and wouldn’t cry too much if they were confiscated. Learn to use the real gun while keeping your real guns safe, and ready for future conflicts.

        • Only way of getting a “real unregistered” gun is the black market…

          If you are found in possesion of an unregistered gun you are locked up.

          In PR you are ONLY allowed to practice at gun ranges, we don’t have the luxury of going to the woods and do some shooting… therefore even if we had an unregistered gun you need to take it out to the range.. not a good idea to be caught ni possesion of said gun.

        • Get a legal gun that is similar to your illegal guns.

          Your illegal guns are essentially just stored (think Mosins in cosmoline) in case of an real conflict. Usually under the ground. That is pretty much the MO here in the Balkans. Especially considering a relatively extremist party came to power in Serbia.

  14. Also, all of those licenses were reinstated within a day or two, and the collection of firearms and ammo never happened because the PR Police chief was “enlightened” after a meeting with Rafel Torres, the president of the Gun Rights and Safety Association of Puerto Rico, to whom you should probably reach out for comment, and the threat of impending legal action.

    This happened a couple of weeks ago.

    It’s cool to see our Island featured in TTAG, though I wish it was under different circumstances.

  15. PR people. Please submit an article. I’d love to read what it’s like for the residents of other places.

  16. Unsurprising. PR is an American island with a Third World level of official corruption and mismanagement. The island’s economy is now in a death spiral due in no small part to the government’s inability to actually govern. Crime is out of control. And it’s going to get a lot worse.

  17. So does the 2nd Amendment not apply in US territories? You shouldn’t need a piece of paper saying you can own a constitutional right.

  18. Another one of the reasons why I left Puerto Rico for the great Republic of Texas. It is sickening that our rights as citizens are trampled and ignored by runaway liberal policies. This police Superintendent Name is James Tuller. He was imported from New York PD and brought with him some of the same policies endemic to the area. Here’s the link to the crooked lawyer indictment on those charges. http://www.justice.gov/usao/pr/news/2013/12192013.html

  19. This is from a 2005 FBI report.

    Puerto Rico is doing well with stringent handgun control . . . . maybe not as good as they think however.

    Note the difference in the US between urban and rural areas. For the US, the FBI says:

    “Prevalence of homicide and violent crime is greatest in low income urban areas of the U.S. In metropolitan areas, the homicide rate in 2005 was 6.1 per 100,000 compared with 3.5 in non-metropolitan counties.[38] In U.S. cities with populations greater than 250,000, the mean homicide rate was 12.1 per 100,000.[39] According to FBI statistics, the highest per capita rates of gun-related homicides in 2005 were in D.C. (35.4/100,000), Puerto Rico (19.6/100,000), Louisiana (9.9/100,000), and Maryland (9.9/100,000).”

    I bet if they break out New Orleans, Louisana would be low and Maryland surrounds what city on 3 sides ? Hint: the city is named after our first president. Anyone, anyone. . . . Bueller?

    I’m thinking Wash DC is doing a great job also.

    Just sayin’

  20. You do realize that this article excites Bloomberg, Cuomo, Christie, O’Malley, etc. in a very physical way. That’s their dream come true.

  21. Could you explain why your friend, a attorney, hired a attorney to take care of the permit process in PR?

    Was he not licensed to do this in PR? Can you represent yourself to get the permit or do you need to hire a attorney specific to this?

    Thanks

    • I don’t know but if I had to guess I ‘d say that he did so because most attorneys know better than to open their mouths in court without representation.

      And yes, this happened a couple three weeks ago, and the FFL only had to hold onto the firearms for about four/five days. There were a lot of angry people with lawyers at the State police headquarters from what I heard, and they brought the press with them. The Chief of Police acquiesced, but only on the target licenses. all of those people still lost their carry permits. Some refuse to stop carrying, quoting: “better to be judged by twelve than carried by six….”

  22. Puerto Rico is just like any other Latin American country which has been infected with liberal statist ideas. A beautiful island suffering from the cancerous tumors of institutionalized multi-generational welfare and deeply imbeded corruption. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens by birth yet are subject to second class status in regards to the 2A. These hard working people have been seduced by the Siren’s call of the false illusion of the state taking care of all your needs from cradle to grave.

  23. I was one of the lawyer’s victim. Spent $900, after paying $300 for my gun permit, to get my ccw about a year ago just to find the lawyer was counterfeiting court documents. The guy is a federal prisoner, but most of the lawyer’s clients were left hanging with a falsified ccw. The lawyer even got permits to convicted felons and that’s how the scheme was discovered. The main problem in the island is that the lawmakers has legalized corruption, by finely tuning laws to create gray areas and loopholes to commit their crimes with impunity. That same strategy was used to stop people to gain access to guns and ammo. This is a may issue “state” (using the term vaguely), but to get a gun permit (for possession of only two firearms and 50 bullets per gun per year, no ccw), you have to get three different certifications, 4 affidavits, pay around $300 in fees and let the local police conduct an investigation so they can be assured you are not a dangerous person. After 120 days they issue the gun permit. Then you can apply for the ccw, for which a lawyer is necessary because you have to assist to court and there are judges that doesn’t let people to represent themselves, the same three certifications are required, you have to take three persons to court to testify on your behalf, 4 new affidavits and paying around $800 so a judge may issue the ccw.
    As you can see, the whole process takes more than four months and cost around $1100 in a territory that the average yearly income is $16000. This makes the process too hard and costly to complete thus making this “state” one of the most antigun in the country.

    • I’ll say this again.

      I know the FBI has been mentioning the excon with a license each time they get a chance.. but if they knew what they where talking about they should now that there’s no way for the arrested lawyer to ISSUE A LICENSE..

      His fraud involved forgint the CCW permit… and in order to do that the client already had to have a valid license ISSUED BY THE PRPD…

      so either the FBI has no clue of the due process and how it works, which will translate to some of the charges being dropped for the lawyer or we’ll start to see some police employees starting to roll down the hill..

      IN PLAIN BLACK/WHITE: THERE’S NO WAY FOR THE LAWYER TO ISSUE A FIREARMS LICENSE WITHOUT THE POLICE BEING INVOLVED SOMEHOW

  24. It’s not a “Target License”; it’s a “Taaaarget License” as in “these people are targeted for firearms confiscation” because the administration knows that these people have firearms.

    Still think it’s OK to have firearms registration?

  25. It is time to remove citizenship from them and make them become their own nation. We don’t need them in the United States.

    • How about we remove YOUR citizenship and everybody else’s in your state too? Make your neighbors form your own country because your state is not needed? We didn’t cross any border. The border crossed us. The point of the article is to point out what happens when a registration scheme is used to deprive law abiding citizens of their lawful property ignoring the constitutional limitations of what the government can do and goes all out to impose their agenda. You think it is not your problem because is an island in the caribbean? Wake up and smell the coffee buddy. This is a preview of what might go down in CT and NY and any other place in the mainland where your rights are misconstrued as privileges by a ruling elite.

  26. Right know in Puerto Rico the goverment is looking to get control and new regulations over ammunitions control. They are making this with the help of many US States, making new regulations, so later they could apply them to the Mainland. We are figthing against that as Gun Rights & Safety Association of Puerto Rico ( NRA State Association) since we are covered by the 2nd Ammendment as US Citizens and will continue to fight for all our rights.

  27. Been to Puerto Rico, and US VI a couple times for work, not a fun place to live in my opinion, but not too bad for a couple of weeks.

  28. But but but, wait! NOONE IS COMING FOR YOUR GUNS. Why not register them? It couldn’t hurt, right?

    /s/

    Can anyone name a time when registration did not lead to some kind of confiscation? Seriously.

  29. The most likely thing to have happen in your home if you have a firearm there is the injury of you or one of your family members. The odds are really bad. Originally, 43 to 1 by Kellerman. So what if it is only 20 to 1. As fearful as you are, still the most likely event is you or yours getting injured. A really bad bet.

  30. There are some here who have spoken rather ill of the residents of Puerto Rico and I, most assuredly, cannot stand idly by as such statements are made. From the Civil War -yes, there were Puerto Ricans fighting on both sides even though Puerto Rico was not a Commonwealth (ask anyone in Ky, Ma, or La) to the more current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Puerto Ricans have rallied to the flag like the Minuteman of old -in fact, some were (look it up). To make a long story short, it was the 65th Infantry Regiment that covered the 1st Marine Division’s escape from the Chosin Reservoir during the Korean War and the most decorated soldier in that war was a Puerto Rican. Arguably, the most decorated soldier in the Vietnam war was a Puerto Rican and there are plenty of MIAs from every military effort The United States has exerted throughout the world. We are needed and we have been there and I can only wonder if the gentleman who “does not need them” has ever served in uniform because if you have then you know we were there and if you have not then what are you waiting for? Military doesn’t work for you? How about a Surgeon General? Perhaps the Ms. Puerto Rico that went on to become Ms. Universe titleholders — more than any other country except Venezuela might be of interest? Medicine? How about the discoverer of the bacteria that causes dental caries (and yes, that is the correct term)? no, more? While there certainly are large number of examples, I would risk my point.

    When “riled up”, a Puerto Rican is part mongoose, part badger, and part bulldog. It is just that we have become so numb that it takes something like a real threat to the nation to get our attention. Every problem on the island is colored by the statehood issue. Those Pro-Statehood such as myself, would like nothing better than all the responsibilities of citizenship and all the benefits of The Constitution. However, the problem is that a small but ridiculously vocal minority are -stupidly- pro independence and would see a challenge to the law -a law that they probably dislike as much as anyone- as a step in a direction they do not want to go and so, a little here and a little there in appellate courts is all that gets done. Ok, I can hear the puzzlement when anyone reads that: the reason is that a large number of the status quo supporters would not be unsympathetic and thus, less than 1% of the electorate manipulates enough to complicate everything -including a challenge to a decidedly unjust, unconstitutional, and, most of all, ineffective law.

    The process to obtain a firearm in Puerto Rico is not unlike that of anyone in the other 50 states attempting to purchase a howitzer. It is baroque and absurd in the utmost and subject to the political wind and whatever might be the “panic of the week” and hence, completely disconnected from any rational thought. That being said, much has been said concerning corruption –someone referred to it as “third world corruption”– and to the homicide rate without some awareness of how this grasping at straws sort of lawmaking came to be.

    It is not lack of resolve or some sort of innate propensity towards violence or crime but rather something far simpler and something that generally causes a kind of flip flop in arguments that include the words firearm and law enforcement: drugs. The problem is that the so called “war on drugs” has done little more than militarize police forces nationwide and increase the violence of any dispute anywhere in the nation until the citizenship has come to distrust those who put their life on the line every day for their safety. In some ways, law enforcement has become an industry in its own right and enforcing laws an end unto itself.

    Marihuana and cocaine can grow without much, if any, effort throughout the island and there are places where one could easily grow opium poppies. However, 99% of the problem is that every once in a while, someone wants to smoke some marihuana to relax and watch the universe go by but rather than going to a flowerpot, you have to go to a dealer and given the population density, locations from which to sell are few and lucrative. The argument has been made that the island can serve as a gateway to the mainland but that is patently absurd with minimal thought: the border with Mexico is extensive and smuggling drives the economy of the border with a willing and low-cost labor force and minimal transport costs. So why the insane enforcement? All those paranoia fueled messages from the 1920s onwards grew deep roots in Puerto Rico and, in a place with a news paper that is essentially an illustrated crime blotter and a shining example of yellow journalism, the paranoia that crime is rampant all the time and everywhere took hold and suddenly, every hoodlum and sociopath was not that way because of poor parenting or psychopathy but because “he’s on drugs!!” A great emphasis on “he” as no one really believes in the macho culture -all evidence to the contrary- that a woman can be a criminal.
    So here is where some of you will flip flop: the solution is to make marihuana legal. Let people grow the definition of weed, it is even good for the soil! Suddenly, when 99% of your business evaporates, it is not so much fun to be out in the middle of the night; suddenly, the reward stops being worth the risk. I do not think there is a business school that would suggest that any business can continue to operate when 99% of its business evaporates and its labor force makes demands that are impossible to meet.
    So why the long treatise? Because the corruption is driven by two competing interests that work synergistically for the law enforcement community: a difficult process means that almost all firearms are illegal and thus, any weapons observed are cause for arrest in their own right. Often, this is translated as IF GUNS ARE OUTLAWED ONLY OUTLAWS WILL HAVE GUNS. Then, there is the funding that comes from the DEA in two forms: directly in the form of grants and indirectly in the form of seizure of assets -never mind that pesky presumption of innocence- prior to trial. Did I mention that knowing who has a firearm makes police officers just as nervous and paranoid as not knowing? Maybe, the rest of the nation can learn from this as apparently, Morton Grove, IL was not enough and there, the problem wasn’t that you could grow your own marihuana, to show that no guns does not equal peace in the realm.

    I am not saying that there are no problems in Puerto Rico, I am saying that lacking a place, never mind the animals, to hunt makes the “take the guns away and crime goes with it” crowd more aggressive and the problem far less pressing than the electric bill or the car payment and thus, another right is lost to indifference.

    To the man that spoke about visiting the island and noticing the dock workers “asleep”: I have some knowledge of this matter (The Navy, Coast Guard, and The Marine Corps do go on ships) and I can assure you that it was not a matter of laziness or “siesta culture” but rather of a simple physiological problem: heat dispersion in high humidity that is compounded by a lot of steel. On a ship, the temperature on the deck surfaces can reach high enough to burn by 10 am and between 11:30 and 2 or so, enough to cause a 2nd degree burn on contact -particularly on unpainted merchantmen. The air temperature on the weatherdecks can reach into the 120s on a 90 degree day and so, rather than have individuals die of rhabdomyolysis and renal failure or fall into a hold from dehydration and heat exhaustion or stop all work when someone develops heatstroke, it might just be better to let them -or make them- take a break and push fluids. A “nap” is cause for alarm.

    To the visitor to Old San Juan: Like most other places in the world, it is all about where you go. There are a lot of places to have a good time with friends and lots of surprisingly even shockingly friendly and understanding police officers to ask where to go and how to get back safely. Unfortunately, there are seedier places, a far cry from a posh Playboy Club, that tend to be like magnets for petty criminals because even someone with a buzz is easy prey when nearly deaf from the music, nearly daffy from the tease, and depressed because they are going back to a bed somewhere alone.

    The overwhelming majority of Puertoricans will give a friendly stranger the shirt off their back and gladly show him or her the beauty of the island. The gun grab is just grasping at straws by people who cannot bring themselves to accept that Al Capone would be just as rich if he dealt in marihuana as if he dealt in booze provided either was illegal at the given time and thus, to legalize the recreational use and treat medically the abuse of the same. What should really frighten everyone here is the posibility that the law might just be challenged in front of the supreme court. The amicus curiae briefs will flow like an avalanche from all sorts of places -unexpected places like Memphis, TN- and, while it is unlikely that the court would uphold the law as a whole, what if they let some parts stand?

  31. UPDATE!! Puerto Rico Gun Law has been declared Unconstitutional by a local Judge!! first step in redemption!!!

  32. Taking control of Puerto Rico’s strict firearms statutes is Judge Lugo Anibal Irizarry, sitting in the Court of Salinas, who found the U.S. territory’s Ley de Armas unconstitutionally prohibitive and in violation of the Second Amendment as part of a class action lawsuit brought by 850 plaintiffs.

    As Irizarry’s 42-page (Spanish) ruling reads, explained by the Second Amendment Foundation, Puerto Ricans in the Commonwealth may now carry openly or concealed without a permit, and they do not need to obtain a permit before purchasing a firearm.

    “Cumbersome firearms regulations have never prevented criminals from getting their hands on guns,” said Alan M. Gottlieb, SAF executive vice president, in a statement emailed to Guns.com. “They have only inconvenienced law-abiding citizens, or deprived them outright from exercising their rights under the Second Amendment.”

    The ruling extensively refers to the precedents set in the stateside Heller and McDonald cases, which have framed legal gun ownership and use in the past decade.

    Puerto Rico has some of the strictest gun laws in the U.S. and impact over three million residents, who in the end are U.S. citizens.

    The territory requires those who want to legally own a firearm first obtain a weapons license or licencias de armas, which costs $125 and has to be renewed every five years. This permit allows the holder to possess a maximum of two firearms, which have to be registered with the police, for which they can only purchase ammo in the same calibers as their declared firearms.

    Ammunition purchases are limited to 50 rounds per calendar year per firearm.

    Those who want a concealed carry permit must already have a weapons license, become a member of a gun club recognized by the police, obtain an additional $25 Target-shooting permit (Permisos de tiro al blanco), which allows the possessor to purchase larger amounts of ammunition and file an application to appear before a judge to argue their case for a CCW. This typically requires using a lawyer to expedite the process and obtain additional training.

    The process costs upwards of $1,000 and the number of permits issued are so low as to classify Puerto Rico as a “No Issue” jurisdiction when compared to such notoriously strict “May Issue” handgun permit states as New Jersey and Hawaii.

    However, the Commonwealth also suffers from a crime rate that is seven times higher than that found in the rest of the U.S. despite strict control over legal firearms.

    The elusiveness of legal permits on the island has led to a burgeoning black market in illegally procured permits, which in turn has brought down the long arm of the federal government into prosecuting local officials over violations of the Ley de Armas.

    Under the court’s guidelines handed down this month, all would-be gun owners in Puerto Rico would have to do moving forward to obtain a firearm is complete a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Form 4473 at purchase from a licensed dealer and pass a NCIS instant background check. Once obtained, it could be carried anywhere not already prohibited by law.

    However, the Department of Justice for Puerto Rico, in a statement Friday, cautioned the ruling is suspended for 60 days pending filing of appeal, which could send the case eventually to the Commonwealth’s Supreme Court.

    “Legal weapons should be in the hands of people who are qualified to own them,” said Secretary of the Department of Justice Cesar Miranda.

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