Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gun Control Arrives in Guatemala

New Law Restricts Ownership of Weapons

The heads of voting blocs in Congress and the Comisión de Gobernación agreed last Thursday on a legislative initiative to restrict the number of weapons a person can own. The original measure, which was harshly criticized by members of Congress and social sectors, opened the door to an unlimited number but new measure limits it to three.

There is still debate on the number of rounds of ammunition that may be purchased per week. The new legislation limits purchases to 500 rounds per week but various organizations are trying to get that reduced to 300 rounds per month.

The initiative calls for each person who wishes to own a firearm to obtain a license. Only one license is allowed per person and the license allows the ownership of a up to three firearms.

To obtain a license, the applicant must undergo a psychological test, although it was not defined how this will be done. The applicant must also demonstrate that he has ability to handle the weapon so he is not a danger to himself, his family, and society.

Roberto Alejos, president of Congress, said that once an agreement on the content of the initiative is reached they will convene a special meeting to approve it.

Some points of agreement in the new law are:

Only one license will be allowed per person and the license allows up to three weapons.

To obtain this license will require a psychological evaluation and demonstration of the ability to handle the gun.

The license will be valid for one year and must be renewed.

To obtain a license one must be at least 25 years of age and not be convicted of crimes such as homicide, murder, kidnapping, rape, robbery, and others.

The law prohibits the prominent carrying of weapons and "ostentatious" magazines. Only magazines originally designed for the gun are allowed.

Q72 Million Invested in Coatepeque Water Project

A piped water project in Coatepeque will benefit approximately 15 thousand families in the region. The city invested Q60 million and Q12 million from a private initiative.

Rodrigo Bonifaz, company representative Cor, S. A., which conducted the study, reported that the families decide if they will connect only to the old system or both the old and new.

Coatepeque has had disruptions of the water supply, especially in the upper parts of downtown and nearby neighborhoods. The situation gets worse in the summer.

The current water system that supplies the city was built in the 1960s during the administration of Mayor Manfredo Hemmerling Morales.

Water storage on land was the property of finca Ona, El Quetzal, San Marcos, and is transported through pipelines over the Naranjo River, to the treatment plant of La Finca Nopalera, Colomba.

Six distribution tanks will be built in the north part of the city and connected to the distribution system.

An average service of 60,000 liters per month will cost Q25 per month.

The builder of the system has a contract to receive fees for 20 years as part of the agreement reached with the municipality

Local citizens say that it's worth it to pay Q25 a month to have water that's on 24 hours a day instead of just a few hours each day.