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Panama To Stiffen Penalties For Illegal Gun Possession

Law & Lawyers Jose Trujillo, an adviser to the Ministry of Government and Justice, said today on the Channel 2 TVN morning news broadcast people are buying handguns to protect themselves, faced with the insecurity in the country, which should not be happening, because the police exist to protect the population. However, the Government Ministry spokesman was not talking about the weapons that are in the hands of organized crime. Trujillo stated with the new draft law which will regulate the personal possession of firearms, prison sentences will be increased to six year for all types of weapons for those who are found carrying an illegal weapon without permission. In current law, there is already a maximum penalty of seven years in prison for anyone who is found carrying "weapons of war" (such as AK-47's or other assault rifles) without permission. Trujillo said he does not know why it takes as long as six months to process the requests for a handgun permit, when the law specifies that these procedures should take no more than 30 days. However, Trujillo suspects the delay could be due to a lack of staff, or the increasing number of people who carry guns legally in the country. Trujillo spoke about this subject after soccer player Carlos Rivera was arrested by illegally possessing a firearm, and in regards to the participation of minors in criminal acts. (TVN Noticias)

Editor's Comment: I love this approach. By simply catching a criminal in possession of an illegal firearm, he goes away for six years. Wonderful. I don't know what the penalty is right now but it's probably pretty light. The government should take a two pronged approach to personal and private weapons ownership. First - make it quick and easy for law abiding citizens to arm themselves for personal protection. The good guys are not the bad guys. Secondly, make it very painful for the bad guys to be caught with an illegal weapon. They should also add mandatory sentencing (consecutive, not concurrent) for anyone who commits a crime with a handgun. Let's see, that's six years just for having the gun, ten years for committing a crime using the gun, another ten for discharging the firearm while in the process of committing the robbery (attempted murder), etc. I am all for, and I mean 100% in favor of the rights of individuals to own firearms for self defense. And, I am also completely in favor of throwing criminals in jail for a long, long time who use firearms to break the law in any way. The law needs to be perfectly clear with regards to what you can do, and what you can not do with your firearm. For instance - there was a case of an American citizen who used his personal firearm to protect his family. He shot and killed two of the intruders (of five) - one of them who had his son in a headlock and was dragging him down the hall. The former police officer placed one well-aimed round right between the bad guy's eyes and the rest of them hauled ass. What did the cops do? They confiscated his weapon because it had been used in a fatal shooting, leaving this man defenseless. He had no choice but to pack his family up and move back to the United States - it was only a matter of time before the bad guys would come back to exact revenge. Hey, at least he's back in the US with his entire family to tell the story.

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Panama To Stiffen Penalties For Illegal Gun Possession | 10 comments | Create New Account
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Panama To Stiffen Penalties For Illegal Gun Possession
Authored by: susangg on Tuesday, June 01 2010 @ 12:15 pm EDT

Do you have Mr. Trujillo's phone number? I would like to speak with him to ask him why we have been waiting ONE FULL YEAR for a permit for a 12 gauge shotgun for our remote home?
And maybe he could explain why "a lot of people illegally possessing guns" are the reason why it takes a year for a foreign legal resident to get a gun permit? People "illegally possessing guns" aren't applying for permits, so how could they be causing a backlog? I agree with increasing penalties for criminals who commit crimes with guns, but not for increasing penalties for simply possessing one without a permit, especially when they are simply not issuing permits. Also, there already is a law that very clearly sets out the criteria for permissible use of a firearm to defend yourself and/or others. Its not all that different from the standards applied in the USA. And there's nothing in that law that says "if you use a firearm permissibly, you can have it seized if you kill someone in legitimate defense in your home." The crime victim you describe had his gun seized because the cops wanted to seize it, not because it was required by law.
Yeah I know. This is Panama, where "the law" is a fluid concept.

Panama To Stiffen Penalties For Illegal Gun Possession
Authored by: Don Winner on Tuesday, June 01 2010 @ 12:36 pm EDT

I Disagree: The law requires that you have a permit in order to have a firearm. Period. The police catch criminals with illegal weapons all the time, but right now the penalties that can be applied against those criminals are weak. For example, if they raid someone's home on a legally executed search warrant and find all kinds of paraphernalia used to commit crimes - such as fake police uniforms, bullet proof vests, weapons, ammunition, etc. - the person in possession of these materials is not facing any real serious time in prison, even though everyone in the whole world knows they were using those things to commit more serious crimes, up to and including murder. I think that anyone who is caught in possession of a weapon who does not have a proper license for that weapon should go to prison - for a long time. This new law would increase the penalty to six years for exactly that. Just having an illegal weapon and you go away, bye bye. Now, with that having been said, I also think the government should be able to issue permits to law abiding citizens in 30 days or less. I have checked with law enforcement authorities. Right now it takes about six months for a Panamanian to get a permit issued, and it's about one year for all foreigners. However, by all accounts the permits are, in fact, being issued on a regular basis and there's no "freeze" on the issuance of permits.

Panama To Stiffen Penalties For Illegal Gun Possession
Authored by: Don Winner on Wednesday, June 02 2010 @ 08:52 am EDT

You Should Run For Office: Susan, I understand this is your opinion, and of course you are perfectly entitled to think whatever you want. However, the people you describe who currently own shotguns for home defense, who have not sought and obtained legal permission for those weapons, are quite simply breaking the law. If they have owned that weapon for more than six months, then they had sufficient time to apply for and obtain a legal permit for the weapon, even with the slow processing times and procedures. Therefore, your argument simply does not hold water.

Maybe Now They Will Get Motivated: With the passage of this new law, maybe now all of those people who are supposedly living out there in the hinterlands, armed with illegal shotguns, will get motivated enough to go through the process of applying for and obtaining legal permission for the weapons they now hold illegally. Like it or not, if they are breaking the law, then they are breaking the law, and that's that. Previously, there were still penalties for anyone who had "weapons of war" meaning, for the most part, AK-47's. Just before the US invasion of Panama, Cuba sent containers full of AK-47's to Panama that Manuel Antonio Noriega handed out to poor people all over the country with orders to shoot the gringos. In response, and in an attempt to get those weapons off the streets, they passed a law which gives you seven years in jail if you were caught with an AK-47. Back in the early 90's, shortly after the invasion, it was common for five or six criminals to enter a high priced restaurant, all armed with AK-47's, and to take everyone's wallets, watches, rings, clean out the cash register, etc. The lone security guard with a rusty .38 revolver didn't stand a chance so they normally would just give up. Now, more than 15 years later, you almost never hear of these kinds of crimes, and AK-47's are more and more rare. The ones you do see normally come from Nicaragua or El Salvador.

Anyway, I Hear You: I know it's frustrating. However, it's even more frustrating for the Panamanian police and law enforcement officials who bust a criminal with an illegal arsenal of weapons, and the current existing penalties are very light or just administrative. It's not "draconian" - about 1,000 people are going to be gunned down in Panama this year. Martinelli is taking steps to shut that down. And, whether or not you like or approve of the way he's going about it is absolutely irrelevant. You have your opinion, and I hope you feel better for having voiced that opinion, and now the Panamanians will go back to running their own country, thank you very much...


Panama To Stiffen Penalties For Illegal Gun Possession
Authored by: Don Winner on Wednesday, June 02 2010 @ 10:31 am EDT

Susan, You're Going Off Half-Cocked (Again): Read the law which I just posted. Why should there be an "amnesty" for people who have knowingly been breaking the law for at least five years? And, the proposed modifications do not make it a crime to own an unregistered weapon - that's already a crime. The proposals just increase the jail sentences.

Regarding Gun Ownership: I'm not falling into any "trap" - I am all for legal gun ownership. Read that again - LEGAL gun ownership. Anyone who owns an unregistered weapon in Panama is breaking the law, something I cannot condone, and in fact I find it amazing that you would support such a thing. It takes a Panamanian six months to get a permit, and a foreigner about a year. I agree that those times should be reduced. However, the fact that people are just lazy is inexcusable when dealing with issues of the potential use of lethal force. It is absolutely IRRESPONSIBLE (besides being illegal) to be in possession of an illegal or unregistered firearm, especially as a foreigner in a foreign country. If you eventually have to shoot someone to defend your home, you will be arrested and taken to jail for having an illegal firearm. Dumb. Very friggin' dumb.

Panama To Stiffen Penalties For Illegal Gun Possession
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, June 02 2010 @ 12:48 pm EDT

Guns don't kill people. People kill people. I agree with Susan. The trap you are falling for Don is the mentality that the law's the law so you always must obey them. There are bad laws you know. Laws that are rammed through by fearless and corrupt leaders. Laws that are not fair. Laws that are not reasonable. Laws that are quite frankly bullshit. Sometimes you must stand up against bad laws and defy them. If enough people do it then the government will be forced to change the law because they can't throw everyone in jail. That's the way to prevent a tyrannical police state which is what all governments strive for.

Permission based societies suck. Rules and regulations come incrementally so people don't notice. Remember all the things you could freely do back in the old days. Now you have to watch your back for fear of being cited.

Laws that make sense include putting violent criminals away for life. Sending them off to some remote island and letting them rot and die there. That would curtail the criminal population very fast. There is no reason to pass laws that strangle law abiding citizens. If you think about it, who gives a rats ass whether a farmer who owns a shotgun did not register it? He has done nothing wrong and committed no criminal act against anyone. Why is there a law in the first place persecuting him for no wrong doing? There shouldn't be. Gun permits are bullshit unless they can be issued instantly via computer criminal check. Then it makes sense because the law is not hampering the right to own a firearm. Someone who buys a shotgun for protection or hunting should not be forced to wait a year. That is bullshit. And bullshit laws you break.

Now Don if you continue to support bullshit laws then fine. It will become a bullshit society that you live in that is not a free society. For everyone else, either you take the risk of being punished by a bullshit law, or you leave the country to a more free place. I would choose the latter.

Panama To Stiffen Penalties For Illegal Gun Possession
Authored by: Don Winner on Wednesday, June 02 2010 @ 06:11 pm EDT

For The Last Time: After this, I'm closing the comments on this article. We're going around in circles.

Illegal Gun Ownership = Criminal: Period. Like it or not. Agree or not. I really don't care, and neither do the Panamanian police and prosecutors. If you are in possession of an illegal, unregistered weapon in the Republic of Panama, you are subject to (after this new law is passed) from four to six years in prison. Period. End of friggin' discussion.

About Private Gun Ownership by Law Abiding Citizens: It makes no sense, in the context of this discussion about a law regarding illegal gun ownership, to blather on ad nauseum about how great it is for private citizens to own guns. For the record, I support private gun ownership 100%. However I also believe that if you are going to own a weapon, anywhere, then it is a question of personal responsibility and even civic duty to comply with all applicable laws and regulations. Period.

Choosing To Ignore The Law: If you choose to ignore what you consider to be a "bullshit" law, then good luck with that. Each and every individual gets to make their own decisions and live with the consequences of those decisions. If you choose to take the risk and own an illegal, unregistered weapon, then I should not be your first phone call after you get arrested and hauled off to jail. My only response will be "I told you so." It's not a "trap" to decide to comply with local law regulating private weapon ownership, it's a personal decision.

This Law Does Not Restrict Private Weapon Ownership: You're mixing two different debates. I have posted an exact translation of the proposed changes to Articles 329 and 330 of the Criminal Code only address those people who are in the possession of illegal, unregistered weapons. It is not a crime (obviously) to be in possession of a legally registered weapon. Taking the discussion off into a tangent about whether or not a government should allow its citizens to be armed legally has nothing to do with this law. The article is about the changes to the law, and I'm taking advantage of this to highlight for everyone out there that if you have an illegal weapon, then you are breaking the law, and you're facing up to six years in prison. End.

It Takes Too Long To Get A Permit: Got it. Understood. Your point has been made, several dozen times. Get over it. Or deal with it. Or don't. Whatever...

Comments On This Subject Are Now Closed: Why? Because it's becoming useless and repetitive. And, I get the last word because I own the place.