Ecuador Gun Laws

Guns in Ecuador are tightly regulated and the right to bear arms is not guaranteed by the constitution as it is in the United States.

There are several gun ownership restrictions and laws that make it difficult, but not impossible to have a gun in Ecuador.

Civilian Use of Weapons for Personal Defense – April 1, 2023

In the wake of rising violence related to gangs and drug trafficking, especially in the coastal region of Ecuador, President Lasso issued an Executive Decree on April 1, 2023 that legalized the civilian use of weapons for personal defense.

This decree does not change the gun laws in Ecuador, or the requirements to obtain a permit to buy, possess or legally carry a firearm. Instead, it legalizes self-defense, which was previously a gray area.

Prior to this decree, a victim who injured or killed a criminal during an attack could find themselves arrested and jailed alongside the criminal who attacked them. This applied to civilians and even police officers.

As a result, police officers often let criminals go without attempting to stop or capture them because the officers were afraid of being prosecuted.

Likewise, civilians were hesitant to defend themselves even during a home invasion because if a criminal was killed, the victims could be arrested.

As Americans, this is a real facepalm policy to us, but forced pacifism seemed to work well until the pandemic hit.

Ecuador was one of the safest countries in all of Latin America until 2020. The ensuing economic downturn and increased demand for drugs in the US and Europe opened the doors to cartels and the gangs they employ.

That brought unprecedented violence to Ecuador that has never been seen before, and it appears that President Lasso doesn’t think forced pacifism works under these new circumstances.

We’ve had several comments that this is just a sign that the government has lost complete control of the crime situation in Ecuador. Personally, I think this is a sign that they know it’s out of control and it’s just one change among many that’s attempting to fix it.

Allowing police officers to apprehend criminals and allowing civilians to defend themselves without fear of going to jail seems like a good change. Let’s just hope there are no unintended consequences.

It will take at least a few months for the new decree to filter down to law enforcement and the ministry office responsible for defining the regulations.

There is also a chance that the National Assembly will pass a new law to revoke the decree since they have a majority that is steadfastly against it.

 

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Pepper Spray is Now Legal

The decree also legalized pepper spray, which was previously illegal for civilian use. Some police officers carried it, but citizens could not.

Therefore, you can’t buy it in Ecuador. It may take some time for it to appear on the shelves at Supermaxi or it may only be sold in specific stores. We don’t have those details yet.

Amelia looked on TiendaMia to see if she could order it, but the notice still indicated that it’s prohibited in Ecuador.

Tasers are apparently still illegal for civilian use.

Gun Laws in Ecuador

Ecuador Gun LawsAccording to GunPolicy.org, here are the relevant gun laws and regulations for Ecuador:

  • Only firearms with a caliber of 9 millimeters or .38 caliber and smaller are allowed.
  • Assault weapons and automatic guns are illegal.
  • You cannot import a firearm from overseas, which means you cannot bring your gun collection with you.
  • To own a firearm you must be a resident, which includes both citizens, as well as temporary and permanent residents (expats).
  • You must be licensed (see below for permit requirements).
  • You have to reapply for the license every year for possession and every 2 years for concealed or open-carry permits.
  • You must also explain why you want a gun, which could include hunting, target shooting, collecting, or self-defense.
  • You can only own a maximum of 2 guns.

Getting a Gun Permit in Ecuador

Here are the requirements to obtain a permit to legally buy and possess a gun in Ecuador:

  • You must be at least 25 years old.
  • You must pass a psychological test and get a certificate issued by the Ministry of Public Health.
  • You must take a gun safety class and get a certificate of skill in the handling and use of the weapon issued by the Ministry of National Defense.
  • You must pass a drug test and obtain a certificate issued by the Ministry of Public Health.
  • You must NOT have a criminal record.
  • You must NOT have a history of domestic violence.

The process for obtaining a gun permit can take months or even a year.

Gun Stores in Ecuador

Since guns are so tightly controlled in Ecuador, you won’t find a lot of options to buy guns or ammunition. As far as we know, the only gun stores in Ecuador are located in Quito and Guayaquil:

If you’re from the United States and the 2nd Amendment is central to your identity, Ecuador may not be an ideal choice for your expat destination.

However, most countries around the world have gun laws that are far more strict than the U.S., so you may have a difficult time finding someplace that will work for you.

If you’re from anyplace other than the U.S., the gun laws in Ecuador will be similar to what you’re used to so the adjustment won’t be too challenging.

Final Thoughts

We have received SOOOO many messages about the new decree from both sides of the highly politicized gun debate. Some are concerned Ecuador is going the direction of the US and others are happy that guns are now “legal” in Ecuador (even though they always have been).

In reality, neither side has any cause for concern or celebration because the decree changed very little in terms of gun laws. It’s still really hard to legally get a gun in Ecuador.

However, we should all be happy that pepper spray (a non-lethal weapon) is now legal and self-defense is no longer a crime.

I’ll sleep better at night following these changes.

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Hola todos! Welcome to my author bio page! Let's see. Where to begin... I grew up in the country on a lake outside a small Kansas farm town. As soon as I could, I got the hell outta there! Since then, I've lived and/or worked in Kansas City, Washington D.C., Denver, San Francisco, and Ecuador. I started and sold a dotcom, wrote a book about it, started a YouTube channel, and now I write a lot. Amelia and I have embraced the Unconventional Life and we want to help you do it, too!

7 replies
    • JP Stonestreet
      JP Stonestreet says:

      I’ve written quite a bit about crime in my weekly newsletter. If you sign-up, you can read the past newsletters: https://ameliaandjp.com/newsletter/

      Crime has increased throughout the country, but the violent drug related crime is mostly centered in Guayaquil, Portoviejo and Esmeraldas. Again, there is a lot more detail in the recent newsletters.

      Reply
  1. Susan Johann
    Susan Johann says:

    Thank you for the clarity. It’s a relief to me. I’ve never had pepper spray before. Do you know if I could bring a can of pepper spray with me when I fly to Ecuador later this month?

    Reply

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