Last Updated 27 Feb 03

HONDURAS

OVERVIEW (1)

Population: 3,657,086 (July 2002 est.)

Economy:

GDP: purchasing power parity - $17 billion (2001 est.)

GDP: per capita purchasing power parity - $2,600 (2001 est)

Governance: Democratic Constitutional Republic

FIREARMS OWNERSHIP

Percentage of Households with Firearms: n/a

Estimated Number of Firearms: The Ministry of Defence and the Direccion General de Investigacion Criminal (DGIC) are unable to estimate the number of weapons currently in circulation in Honduras.  In 1996 the Ministry declared to the press that, between 1985 and 1992, 18,000 licences for weapons possession had been granted and that, between 1993 and 1995, 9,500 more had been authorized; the Ministry also admitted that the registers were not accurate.  The Fiscal General declared that in the same period 67,000 AK-47s were in the hands of individuals, and the Director of the DGIC admitted that many people had in their possession bazookas, M-16 rifles and C-4 explosives. 

Types of Legal Firearms: Revolvers; semi-automatic pistols (.45 and 11.5 calibre); mechanical and semi-automatic rifles and carbines up to .308 inches; mechanical action shotguns (10, 12, 16, 20 and 410, as long as the barrel is not shorter than 45 cm or 18 inches). (3)

Purposes of Lawful Firearms Ownership:
It is prohibited to carry unconcealed weapons in social centres, at public events and on the streets in general.

FIREARM DEATH, INJURY AND CRIME

Forensic medical data shows a total of 2,837 homicides in the year 2000; if we consider the increase in the population to 6,968,546 inhabitants, we have a homicide rate of 46.31 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants.  The highest homicide rates are registered in the department of Cortes, with 107 homicides for every 100,000 people. The capital city, Tegucigalpa, registers a rate of 52 murders for every 100,000 people. Persons between the ages of 16 and 30 are more exposed to violence than the rest of the population: 61% of the victims are within this age group. The aggressor's age is usually between 19 and 30; meanwhile, 9.4% of crimes are perpetrated by persons between the age of 12 and 18. (4)

Devices Used as Homicidal Weapons in City Name

Instrument

Year

2000

Percentage

January - March 2001

Percentage

Firearms

366

78.20

356

82.0

Bladed weapons

86

18.37

48

11.0

Other

16

3.41

30

7.0

Total Homicides

468

100.00

434

100.00

Source: Direccion de Medicina Forense. Ministerio Publico

Analysis: Additional information from the office of Forensic Medicine indicates that between 1995 and 1999, the percentage of deaths caused by firearms among those brought to mortuaries rose from 24% to 36%. These statistics are not exhaustive because mortuaries are not always used in rural areas.  Further evidence of the recent increase in firearms violence comes from the Ballistics Laboratory: in 1998, 402 firearms were submitted for evidential analysis.  By 1999, that number had climbed to 469. (5)

TYPES/SOURCES OF FIREARMS WHICH ARE MISUSED

In Tegucigalpa, 366 cases of homicide caused by firearms were registered during the year 2000; in the same year, 148 weapons came into the Forensic Medicine department, corresponding to 80 victims. In the first three months of 2001, 356 homicides with fire weapons were registered; meanwhile, the Department of Forensic Medicine collected only 86 weapons corresponding to 67 victims.

Origin of Weapons Recovered by Forensic Medicine

Country of Origin

2000

January-March 2001

Number

Percentage

Number

Percentage

United States of America

61

42.2

40

46.51

Brazil

15

10.13

9

10.46

Israel

13

8.5

3

3.48

Russia

13

8.5

4

4.65

Czech Republic

11

7.5

10

11.62

Italy

4

2.7

3

3.48

China

2

1.0

4

4.65

Unspecified

29

19.0

13

15.11

Total Number of Weapons

148

100.00

86

100.0

Source: Direccion de Medicina Forense. Ministerio Publico

Analysis: The General Depository of Decommissioned Weapons registers and stores all commercial and sporting weapons that have been decommissioned by the authorities due to questions surrounding their legitimacy or origin; expiration of their permits; or because they have been used in the commission of a crime.  The existing laws do nothing to address the great numbers of weapons already circulating in Honduras, and the government is not currently engaged in any weapons collection schemes beyond those aimed purely at decommissioning state-controlled stocks or the collection of evidence in criminal cases. 

Firearm Theft: n/a

Illegal Trade: n/a

DOMESTIC FIREARM LEGISLATION (4)

Licencing Requirements: Those who wish to carry weapons must present a request to the Ministry of Security, including two photographs. Applicants must:

  • Be of the age of majority;
  • Be citizens of the country;
  • Not be subject to any judicial order.

Applications can be turned down if the applicant has a history of dangerous or disorderly behaviour.  Applicants can request one or several licences for the possession and carrying of weapons by presenting the following to the local headquarters of the Preventative Police:

  • Forms showing the place of residence;
  • Make, model, serial number, identification of calibre conversion (if applicable), as well as other characteristics of the weapon;
  • Proof of having passed the ballistics test;
  • Certification of municipal registration;
  • Identification documents.

In practice, these requirements are not always strictly applied.  Corruption in the police force and favouritism influence legislative decisions and result in irregularities in the application of laws.  For example, members of the legislature, judges, magistrates, public prosecutors, members of the Diplomatic Corps and other functionaries who enjoy constitutional immunity are not required to apply for licences to possess and carry weapons; however, their weapons must be registered and subjected to the ballistics test. 

Registration Requirements: n/a

Training Requirements: n/a

Storage Requirements: n/a

Prohibited Firearms Automatic weapons of any calibre; silencers or high-precision weapons; any type of home-made weapon; any projectile that could cause a fire or that contains explosives; paralyzing, tear- or nausea-inducing substances; any weapon with infrared sights; all types of  “fantasy” or toy weapons (understood as those which hide their purpose under an inoffensive appearance).

Penalties: n/a

MANUFACTURE, IMPORT AND EXPORT n/a

REFERENCES

  1. CIA, The World Factbook 2001, Honduras: http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/.
  1. Julieta Castellanos, "Honduras: Violence in Numbers," 2001; and "Honduras: Armamentismo y Violencia," the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress, 2000.
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