Random observations on guns in Costa Rica


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Henry Bowman
April 6, 2005, 06:27 PM
I just returned from a 10-day vacation in Costa Rica (and w/o access to THR). It was hot, beautiful, relaxing, and hot. Did I mention that it is hot down there? It is the dry season and temps are in the middle of their range for the region.

The first gun I saw was on a police officer as we departed the airport in San Jose. He was carrying and older looking revolver (almost certainly a .38) with a 4" barrel in a cordura holster in a cross draw position. It looked worn, but likely to be in working order. I wondered if this was standard, but never saw any others in the cross draw position.

Next, as we entered the coastal resort (Playa Conchal), the guard at the gate had no side arm but had a bandolier of about 8 12 ga. shells on his belt. I took this to mean that he had firepower in the shack and he was not to be messed with. Thereafter, I saw private security (which far outnumbered LEOs) along the edge of the resort where it met the public beach. I was tilting my head to look at the revolver carried by one of them (also 4" bbl, but of unusual design and make) when he stated matter of factly, but in a friendly way, to me, "Treinta y ocho" (thirty eight).

Thereafter, I saw all varieties of semiautos, usually well kept in appearance and small frame on private security guards who acted professionally and with whom I would not mess. None were "full size" and none were Glocks. Never did I see a 1911.

Went into a bank in a very isolated and rural small town. One armed guard outside wearing soft body armor and moving constantly, one armed inside the single door who took the key from his pocket and unlocked and opened the door for each customer. My wife wondered out loud to me whether the guards were in response to a problem or whether there presence prevented there ever being a problem. I don't know, but would guess the latter.

Wages are very low in this country, but it appeared that the private security personnel were relatively well paid and very professional (without looking like mall ninjas). I would guess that their sidearms were personally owned. I saw only one unarmed mall ninja with an ill fitting uniform and a billy club.

I saw no gun shops (although I spent virtually zero time in the big city). In the poor areas where I was, no one but private security guards could possibly afford to own a gun. I was told that the beach and the small town near the resort (Brazilito) were dangerous an night and to keep hold of the hand of my 8 year old daughter when outside of the resort even during the day. I did and never felt any threat at any time.

I missed you all.

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homeka45
April 6, 2005, 06:46 PM
Must have been nice to get back to the USA and THR. Glad you and your family made it through your trip safely. I had thought Costa Rica a possible place to retire to due to the high literacy rate, widespread fluency in english and good medical care. Sounds like I need to do more research.

Moondoggie
April 6, 2005, 08:11 PM
I have friends who own property in Costa Rica near Dominacal. We get emails from them every couple of weeks. They're down there right now for about 6 months working on their place. Took their 2 year old boy, 2 Labordors & a cat with them. It's a family "Co-op" thing...my friend's Dad & several of his brothers all take turns there throughout the year. My friend & his wife have recently taken jobs, so there's no problem with that as there is in Mexico for foreign nationals. They left NH, couldn't take the winters anymore. When they come back to the states they're planning on settling someplace warmer.

I did a search on the web on Costa Rica awhile back....seems like an OK place. Gun laws are acceptable...there's a registration requirement but not very much in the way of restrictions. Because of the widespread poverty, crimes against property are quite high, but crimes against persons is pretty low IIRC. If you are one of the "haves", some type of personal security is a necessity. The police are pretty ineffective at preventing property crime.

JohnBT
April 6, 2005, 09:34 PM
I love Costa Rica, except for downtown San Jose. Of course I've only been to fish and six big guys don't get hassled much.

The State Dept. site has lots of info on travel conditions: "Local law enforcement agencies have limited capabilities and do not act according to U.S. standards, especially outside of San Jose."

I don't care what they say, it's a great place.

John

Sylvilagus Aquaticus
April 6, 2005, 10:24 PM
SWMBO and I have considered retiring to CR from time to time. We have friends who lived part-time there and all reports are favorable, although it seems like it's getting pretty crowded with gringos all of the sudden..and with that came inflation and all the 'ugly American' things that should have been overcome a long time ago. We're both biologists either by profession (her) and hobby (me) and living somewhere that is an incredible natural laborotory has a certain attraction. These days, though, my health problems pretty much negate leaving the CONUS as far as relocating. Pity.


Regards,
Rabbit.

Art Eatman
April 7, 2005, 03:26 AM
It's been 20 years since I spent a week in CR. Loved the place. I picked up a copy of the "Tico Times" and saw an ad for a Ruger Blackhawk. The doctor I was visiting sorta shrugged and commented, "You want a pistol? Go buy a pistol!"

I prefer the northwest quadrant, from Puntarenas on over to the Pacific coast. Cooler than the Caribbean coast.

Fishing, hunting, good food, good beer. Friendly and courteous literate people...What's not to like?

:), Art

Henry Bowman
April 7, 2005, 10:36 AM
Actually it is a great place to relocate and I would consider it if I could. The people are kind and generous. I would prefer to stay out of San Jose, though, due to higher costs (and gerneral distaste for big cities).

Because of the widespread poverty, crimes against property are quite high, but crimes against persons is pretty low IIRC. If you are one of the "haves", some type of personal security is a necessity. The police are pretty ineffective at preventing property crime. That was my inpression from talking to friend who have relocated there.

Cost of living in San Jose is still lower than in the USA for comparable conditions. If you want to live in the NW (Guanacaste), it is dirt cheap, but services are much more limited (especially schools).

I forgot to mention that there is active hunting (both rifles and bow) of deer and wild pigs (probably snakes too), but exotic species are protected.

Redneck Revolver
April 7, 2005, 11:39 AM
a younger friend of mine went to either costa rica or columbia last summer as a missionary like retreat thing. said her bus got stopped by armed rebels i beleive. nothing serious happend but if it was costa rica that story did kinda turn me off to the place. again not sure of it was rica or columbia.

surr
April 7, 2005, 12:20 PM
ammo or reloading components in CR? At what cost? Are you allowed to import guns and ammo with you when you emigrate from the States? I know I can smuggle some, but probably not enough to last more than a year or so, except perhaps .22lr.

GhostRider66
April 7, 2005, 12:21 PM
On a political bent, the Libertarian Party is making great strides there. They hold a substancial portion of congress and have made great strides in deregulating a lot of industry. They are also, of course, looking to loosen gun control regulations.

Check them out here: http://www.libertario.org/en/index.htm

JohnBT
April 7, 2005, 03:50 PM
12/2/04

"The destruction of handguns is part of a campaign against gun ownership by the ministries of Justice, Public Security and Health. Organizers of the campaign will sign a proclamation for the disarmament of Costa Rican civilians in the Cinema Magaly next week, where former President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias' Foundation for Peace will present the documentary “The Arms of Violence.”"

(See Friday's edition of The Tico Times for the full story.)

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