Carrying weapons by civilians sparks controversy in Ecuador.

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Quito: While former assemblyman and lawyer Ramiro Aguilar was having coffee last week in Quito, the capital of Ecuador, two criminals arrived to steal cell phones. He was pointed at with a gun and fell to the ground while two trigger pulls were heard. The gun jammed.

“At this moment he was a dead man, it was 3:00 p.m. and there were two people,” this lawyer from Quito with experience in criminal matters told The Associated Press.

“In such a corrupt country, the permit to carry weapons will be easily sold, and weapons in the hands of civilians are a danger to all of society, even to the police themselves,” Aguilar questioned.

The event occurred on March 28. Four days later, the president of the country, Guillermo Lasso, announced that possessing and carrying weapons for civilian use as a method of defense was authorized.

Aguilar believes “it is a negative and counterproductive decision in any society.”

To carry a weapon and be able to use it, citizens must obtain a permit and several certificates of skill, psychological and absence of criminal records.

But criticism has lashed Lasso’s decision ever since he announced it. On the one hand, some voices see it as an implicit acceptance that the State cannot defeat criminals or guarantee security.

On the other hand, there are serious doubts that, as has already happened with other certificates or permits, weapons licenses can be obtained irregularly, given the recognized corruption in the institutions.

The same government has admitted – and the Prosecutor’s Office has opened investigations – that organized crime has permeated the police and the Army, reaching its leadership. In December 2021, under Lasso’s management, the United States withdrew the visas of several generals for alleged links to drug trafficking.

Three years earlier, in 2018, six military warehouses were raided for alleged arms trafficking with Colombian guerrilla dissidents. In addition, a ton of drugs was seized that year after being found at an army base.

But it will be the Ministry of Defense that must deliver the certificates of skill in weapons and the Ministry of Health the psychological ones. There will be a registration system whose control will be under the Joint Command of the Armed Forces.

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