Guatemala Begins Marking Firearms

By Dialogo
December 08, 2011

Guatemala has begun marking firearms to make them easier to identify and thereby reduce the flow of illegal weapons into criminal hands. The procedure is part of an agreement with the Organization of American States (OAS).

The OAS project to Promote Firearms Marking in Latin America and the Caribbean falls under the framework of the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials.

The General Directorate of Arms and Ammunition Control (Digecam), designated by the Guatemalan Defense Ministry, has been in possession of a specialized machine for marking firearms, donated by the OAS, since October. The firearms are marked with their serial number, the name and address of their manufacturer or importer, their model, and their caliber.

During the first year of the agreement’s existence, Digecam has an obligation to register approximately 1,500 weapons each month.

The treaty was signed by Guatemala in June and ratified by President Álvaro Colom in August. Up to now, the agreement with the OAS has been signed by the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Paraguay, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay.

Regional authorities hope that more than 50,000 firearms will be marked throughout the continent from 2011 to 2012, as a result of this effort. According to the Guatemalan authorities, 80 percent of the violent deaths that occur in that country are caused by firearms.