Minister of Defense Oswaldo Jarrín says he sees no need to change Ecuador’s civilian gun ownership law. His comments came in response to a proposal by former Guayaquil mayor Jaime Nebot that firearms rules should be relaxed as a means of fighting crime.
“I think it would be a terrible idea to have more guns in circulation since experience shows us that many of those guns will ultimately end up in the hands of criminals,” he said. “I particularly object to the suggestion that citizens should be allowed to carry guns in public.”
Nebot and two members of the Guayaquil municipal council said last week that Ecuadorians should have the right not only to own guns but to carry them and that such a change would be a deterrent to criminals. “We are witnessing a crime wave in Guayaquil and other cities and I say that people should have the right to protect themselves,” Nebot said during an appearance with presidential candidate Guillermo Lasso.
Under current law, permitted civilians are allowed to own two firearms with a maximum caliber of nine millimeters. The guns must be kept in the home. Only police officers, licensed security guards, professional fishermen and agricultural workers are allowed to carry firearms outside of the home.
In comments at a meeting of the military command, Jarrín said there is no evidence that increasing gun ownership and allowing the right-to-carry reduces crime. “On the contrary, we find that more guns lead to more gun crime,” he said. “You can look at Mexico and the United States to see the evidence.”
He also suggested that Nebot is exaggerating the increase in crime. “There are several cities in which crime has risen but nationwide the rate is up only five percent. I suggest that one of the reasons Ecuador has one of the lowest crime rates in Latin America is because of our rules regarding gun ownership.”
Jarrín added that he does not oppose a serious discussion of some changes to current law. “This discussion must proceed through proper channels of analysis, followed by a full review in the executive and legislative branches of the government.”