MONTEVIDEO – Three out of four firearms used in crimes in Uruguay are properly registered with the Defense Ministry, which has documentation for more than 604,000 weapons in a country of 3.3 million people.
“That is to say, they (the guns) have been stolen, or purchased legally, but they end up in the hands of criminals,” the head of the ministry’s National Firearms Registry, Daniel Farias, told EFE.
As of July, the registry had records of 604,632 firearms.
By reviewing permit renewals, the registry determined that at least 329,749 of those guns remained in the hands of their legal owners.
People applying for gun permits are subject to background checks and an investigation to determine their fitness to own weapons.
Revolvers account for 43.2 percent of firearms registered in Uruguay, followed by rifles, pistols and shotguns.
A 2007 study by the Small Arms Survey ranked Uruguay ninth internationally in terms of the prevalence of gun ownership among civilians.
Nearly 89 percent of Uruguay’s registered gun owners are civilians, according to the Defense Ministry registry.