10 December 2012

Bang! Motherf***er

Gun ownership in Costa Rica is pretty difficult for immigrants. I've begun the process and will see it through to completion over a period of about 60 days.

Day 1: First 6 shots. I think he's hurt.

Some people are appalled by guns. I see them as a tool. But I also take a lesson from history.

In Switzerland, every able-bodied male must serve in the military -- and then everyone who has served takes their service weapon home, permanently. After WWII, it was revealed that Hitler had designs on taking over Switzerland but was dissuaded from that course because his generals knew that there would be a rifle barrel greeting them from every window sill and mountain side. (It didn't hurt that the Swiss had built a network of fortresses into every mountain pass accessing the country.)
Behind a "wall" leaning out just enough to hit targets.

So, first, it's a tool of equalization for this old man, to protect us. Any time you swim in the ocean, there's a tiny chance that you'll be the target of a shark. Similarly, every day, while we're swimming in this ocean of humanity, there's a tiny chance of encountering a bad guy. Being gringos and grey-haired also ups the chances of an encounter.

Then, second, you're never safe and secure from hostile government takeover, no matter what you may want to believe. There are endless historical cases of unarmed sheeple going to the slaughter. I'm not crazy enough to think an old man could stand up to an air strike or even a Stryker squad; but, it's the factor of "how badly do they really want a country and how much are they willing to sacrifice to get it?" Germany decided against Switzerland and apparently, Japan's war plans steered away from a West Coast invasion of the U.S. for similar reasons.

Enough rant.

Here's what happens in Costa Rica, to gain the right of gun ownership.

First, you must be a Permanent Resident. Not a Pensionado, Rentista, Investor or Representante. Permanent Residency is granted after 3 years in one of these categories, or immediately through family linkage with a Costa Rican citizen (my situation).

Second, you're well advised to get on the inside of the gun crowd here because anything bureaucratic is incredibly complex and we all need any help we can get. So I found a gringo with connections to a local gun range and club. He offers an "urban handgunning" course and the implicit back-story is that by taking the course, there would be plenty of help through the bureaucracy.

I'm a decent shot with a good handgun understanding, as well as being pretty safety conscious. And, after spending the past several years in the Wild West post-Katrina Houston I had "situational awareness" well drilled into my psyche.  All of this was discussed in the handgun course.

Another topic of discussion was "the switch."  They didn't call it this but psychologists call it the "fight or flight" response.  When surprised with a threat, there is an adrenaline burst so that you can attack (fight) or run (flight).  Having volunteered in EMS services, firefighting, and wilderness rangering, I had experienced plenty of moments with "the switch."  The difference now is instead of switching into The Zone of under-stress performance, one has to understand that the performance is now going to be Bang! Motherf***er.  Controlled anger, aggression, performance ... immediately.

Day 2: On the attack after bailing out of the car.
The question everyone has to ask is, "Can I, without a second of hesitation, shoot another person?"

Are they threatening me or Pat with grave bodily harm? Oh? Well ... yes I can ... without a blink.

That's pretty much the totality of the course, other than firing off (200) 9mm rounds on a range, from behind "walls," on the move, retreating, advancing, dropping magazines and reloading from cover, getting out of and behind a vehicle while firing and a host of other life-threat situations.

Then the gubmint stuff starts.

First there is a written test, in Spanish. I'm allowed to have an approved interpreter (thank the FSM). It's kind of remedial but you have to pass it or you ain't owning a gun here.

Next there is a hands-on shooting qualification out on the range. Unlike Texas, where you are timed and placed under stress, shooting from various distances and situations, the Costa Rica test is just 10 rounds of .22 ammunition, shot at a static A4 target, set out at maybe 10 feet. You can take all the time you want and only 7 of 10 rounds have to hit anywhere on the target. Thanks. I think I got this one.

And then (!!) there's a psych evaluation by a nationally certified head doctor. Oh, cripes. This could be the deal breaker. I wonder if they'll let me have my "emotional support animal," Randall J. Russell The Superdog with me? I'll keep you posted.

Then you go get fingerprinted at some location. (This will be the third time in this country. Doesn't anybody share with anybody else?)

Finally, with 3 passport-size photos, my cedula (resident identity card), documentation of all of the above and a fistful of money I get to go stand in line all day at the Ministerio de Armas y Explosivos to fill out more forms and do the formal application.

Ta-chukata-chukata-chukata ... the wheels of bureaucracy shall churn and maybe they will grant me the right to acquire, keep and bear arms.

In the mean time, if things should get out of hand, I'll just have to cut 'em.


  1. What are you shooting there John? I looks like a Glock 19, Maybe a Smith & Wesson M&P 9? Hard to tell. Naa... going with my first guess.

    1. It's a 19, rented from the Gun Club. But, the M&P Shield 9 has been recommended to me. Haven't shot one so I just don't know.

  2. Yay guns!! No wait, that sounds bad.
    I know exactly how long it takes me to get from my bed to the gun. I also know that I can get there and have a round in the chamber long before any idiot will make it to my staircase (which leads to my most precious posessions). Their warning will be the round I rack into the chamber. After that, goodbye!
    Apocolyptic type scenario? I have a pretty good sniping position from the playroom. Yes, I've thought about that as well. Apple didn't fall far from the tree, eh Dad?

    1. Dat's my widdle Duckie!!

      Hey, save your pennies for some active volume ear muffs like this: http://www.amazon.com/3M-Peltor-Tactical-Hearing-Protector/dp/B00009363P/ref=pd_cp_hi_3

      The ones I'm wearing are the obsolete 7S but they all give you "super-hearing" of faint sounds while blocking out the sound of gunfire.