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Owning a Gun in Panama (or moving here with one...)

Internet Shopping and Mail ForwardingThere are a few legal hurdles and things to consider if you plan to or want to either buy a bun here in Panama when you arrive, or bring one with you when you come. This subject was recently discussed at length in the Americans in Panama Yahoo! group, and Susan was nice enough to capture it all for this article. Thanks, Susan... Helpful posts about GUN PERMITS from knowledgeable people in the Americans in Panama Yahoo group.

This article contains a thread that started in the Americans in Panama Yahoo group on Wednesday, November 17, with a question about gun permits. I have copied the posts from the beginning of the discussion to give it context and show what questions those of us who asked for gun permit information wanted answered, but the posts you want to read most carefully are those by Jaime Figueroa and John Carlson, because they contain the answers. They explain in detail exactly what you have to do to get a gun permit in Panama.

From: hslanham@a... Date: Wed Nov 17, 2004 9:29 am Subject: Guns

The way we understand gun permits here is that the gun is given a ballistics test, and the gun is registered with it through the government. You are just the owner of the moment.HLD

From: "Susan Guberman-Garcia" Date: Wed Nov 17, 2004 10:02 am Subject: Re: Guns

Really? It sounds like you are saying that the permit runs not withthe person but rather with the particular gun? That's somewhatdifferent than what my lawyer explained. I asked him: "How do Iget a gun permit" and he said first you have to have your one yearresidency card issued, then you go see a psychologist and get acertification that you are not crazy and then go to (DNR the name ofit) the govt. office and you will get a permit. Once you have it,you can bring a gun from home legally or buy new ones. Myunderstanding is that there are certain types of guns you cannothave because they are consider "weapons of war," but the ordinarykind of guns that most people keep around their house for protectionare OK.It may be that if you import a new gun or buy one from a store hereyou have to register it, I haven't gotten that far in the processyet because I am still waiting for the residency card. But I don'tthink its the case that the guns belong to the government and youare merely the "owner of the moment." Unless my attorney isconfused too....

From: "Rod Braden" Date: Wed Nov 17, 2004 10:36 am Subject: Re: GUNS

I spoke to my lawyer this week and she said that where you buy yourgun, dealer, will get you a gun permit, and it is included in theprice. I have found here in PC that handguns are almost twice theprice as US.

From: "Jaime E. Figueroa" Date: Wed Nov 17, 2004 12:03 pm Subject: Guns in Panama

Susan, gun permits are issued by the POLICIA TECNICA JUDICIAL (PTJ), located in Ancon. The PTJ is an sub-entity of the Ministerio Publico. The weapons belong to the bearer of the LICENCIA PARA PORTAR ARMAS DE FUEGO (gun permit), and not the government of Panama. Thus you're not the "owner of the moment." Be prepared to wait a lengthy period from the moment you purchase the gun until you finally receive your gun permit. The normal process is circa 30 days. I had to wait 3 months last year for the issuance of my permit after purchasing a Walther PPK. There are many firing ranges. I practice at the one located at Calle 39, behind Marbella Restaurant, located on Avenida Balboa (one block from the U.S. Embassy). Should you have additional queries, please feel free to contact me. Jaime

From: "John W. Carlson" Date: Wed Nov 17, 2004 12:21 pm Subject: Re: [americans_in_panama] Re: Guns you will own your guns and you will keep them with your home or on your person...with the gun permit here, you are entitled to carry it with you (even concealed)...the permit itself (i have had one for years)describes each gun clearly...there is a ballistics test (you prived several "balas" for this, and you get everything can buy a gun from another "licensed" owner, or evn from a "non-licensed" guy...then, of course, you register the gun on youir existing permnit...if you buy from a gun store, they handle everything (usually) for's no biggie...the "license" or "permit" - it is called a "license tocarry firearms" ("licencia para portar armas de fuego") - it lists all theweapons you own, by make and serial number and even the ballistics testnumber (if a rifle or pistol - not a shotgun)...many people have their license and still have other weapons that are "notregistered"...the trick is to own a "non-registered" handgun; shoot theintruder betwen the eyes with your "registered" weapon, then place your"mystery" gun in the hand of the former thief (anybody who is inside yourhome in the nightime without your permission is a thief - or worse) and callthe own the gun(s) license has exactly the same guns (two shotguns andtwo "dirty harry" types) that my son's license shows so that either of uscould carry them and be legal...jwc

From: "Susan Guberman-Garcia" Date: Wed Nov 17, 2004 1:42 pm Subject: Re: Guns in Panama

Sorry but between you and John I am still confused. So, again, Iask: Does the PERMIT run with the GUN or does it run with thePERSON. If the permit runs with the PERSON, then I am getting apermit to own ANY (legal) gun. If it runs with the GUN, then what Iam getting is a permit to own one particular gun and no others.In other words: if I go to the Ministry and request a gun permit,am I requesting a permit for MYSELF to be allowed to possess anyfirearm that is legal for a civilian in Panama? And once granted,may I now do that? Or am I requesting a permit to own ONEPARTICULAR GUN which I present to them at the time the permit isrequested? Which is it?And if the latter: What if the gun is not in Panama, but rather, isin California and I want to bring it on my next visit? In order tohave it NOT SEIZED AT AIRPORT, don't I have to show that I have aPERMIT? And if the permit runs with the gun, how do I get apermit "for"a gun that is not in the country?Must one request a NEW PERMIT each time one buys a gun? Or does thepermit run to the person, thereby allowing him or her to buyadditional guns?And what if the gun belongs to husband and wife? Must both husbandand wife obtain a permit? If not, is the gun illegal because itresides in the home where husband and wife live, but only one spousehas the permit? And if husband and wife want a permit but aren'tboth available to visit the govt office simultaneously, can onespouse get the permit, and then what does the other spouse to whenseeking his or her own permit later? Must s/he bring the originalgun to the government office?

From: "Jaime E. Figueroa" Date: Wed Nov 17, 2004 2:15 pm Subject: Re: [americans_in_panama] Re: Guns in Panama

Susan, the permit is for the person. You may include in your gun permit one OR several weapons. I strongly recommend youregister ALL your firearms at one time. If you want to import your gun from California (or elsewhere) you need to go to the nearestPanama Consulate (or Embassy if you're in the country's capital) and fill the required paperwork there in order to import your weapon. Your weapon will be confiscated at theairport (Tocumen in Panama City) or the border (Paso Canoas in Chiriqui if arriving from Costa Rica byland) and will be under the care of the Policia Tecnica Judicial (PTJ) until you comply with allthe Licencia para portar armas de fuego requirements. When you purchase an additional weapon, you will be obliged to register the gun under yourLicencia after the ballistic tests are completed at the PTJ. If a weapon is lost or stolen, you'reunder the obligation to report it immediately to the Oficina de Permiso de Armas de la PoliciaTecnica Judicial. This also applies if you change your address, or lose your license. Since I have my gun in my car during the day and in my house at night, I always carry my Licenciawith me. You will have a very difficult time if you're involved in an event where your weapon is utilized and you do not have your licencia on your possession. I am not sure about the husband/wife question and will investigate further. Jaime

From: "Susan Guberman-Garcia" Date: Wed Nov 17, 2004 2:37 pm Subject: Re: Guns in Panama

Thank you, this is really helpful. I still have a couple ofquestions:1. I am IN Panama. Where do I go to apply for the importationpermit? Obvoiusly, there is no Panamanian Embassy in Panama.2. Do I need the possession permit before applying for theimportation permit? Or do I import it first, and then apply for thepossession permit?

From: "Dennis Melton" Date: Wed Nov 17, 2004 6:58 pm Subject: Re: Guns in Panama

An interesting point as told to me recently by a former Panamanianjudge is that if you have to shoot someone, you will be carried intothe police station and held during the investigation and not easilyreleased on your own cognizance. This true regardless of whetherthe investigation takes a day, a week or a month. (His wordswere, "forget hours, remember Panamanian time applies here") Hisrecommendation was that before you call the police you contact yourattorney and get him to the police station and involved before theystart the processing to avoid this.Before you start screaming at me about protecting yourself, I am NOTsaying that if the rare instance deadly force is required in selfdefense, this would be an issue, but just saying that you might wantto talk with an attorney briefly to see how the criminal proceduresin instances like these may work in Panama. As has been statedbefore, "You are in a foreign country and chances are they may dothings that are foreign to you."

From: "Jaime E. Figueroa" Date: Thu Nov 18, 2004 11:22 am Subject: Re: [americans_in_panama] Re: Guns in Panama

Susan, go to the arms department at the PTJ (Policia Tecnica Judicial) in Ancon. Cabs know exactly where it is. When you arrive at the PTJ ask for Charito Garcia or call her at 635-5885. She's a detective friend of mine and will gladly assist you with all your queries. Needless to say, tell her I sent you. Jaime
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