How to Sell a Gun in Puerto Rico?
How to Sell a Gun in Puerto Rico?
If considering purchasing or selling a firearm in Puerto Rico, it’s important for the parties involved to understand the nuanced gun regulations in this United States territory. Puerto Rico follows both federal and local laws regarding firearms transactions, including private sales. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain the process of buying and selling a gun in Puerto Rico, the state and federal laws involved, and the licensing requirements.
The following is compiled from a memorandum from the Puerto Rico Office of the Attorney General on State Laws and Published Ordinances to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
What is the Process to Legally Buy and Sell a Firearm in Puerto Rico?
In order to purchase a firearm legally, the buyer must be 18 years old to purchase rifles, shotguns and ammunition. Buyers looking to purchase handguns must be at least 21 years old. Anyone buying a firearm from a licensed firearms dealer must complete a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms form 4473. The purchaser must, under the permanent provisions of the Federal Brady Law, also undergo a National Instant Criminal Background Check System check, which will be performed by the licensed firearms dealer.
The check will indicate to the dealer whether the purchaser’s background allows for the person to complete the purchase of the firearm. If the check disallows the sale for no warranted reason, there is an appeal process the purchaser can pursue to receive the necessary clearance to complete the purchase.
Purchasing a firearm or ammunition in Puerto Rico requires a license, and all firearms must be registered in order to legally own a firearm and ammunition.
What is the Gun Licensing, Permit and Registration Process in Puerto Rico?
Obtaining a gun license in Puerto Rico involves a rigorous process. Applicants must complete a notarized Application for Weapons License. The requirements include:
- Proof of social security number.
- Proof of date of birth and legal presence in the territory.
- Copy of driver’s license or non-passport identification.
- Recent headshot photo.
- Certificate of a negative criminal record issued within the past 30 days.
- Fingerprints taken by the Police Bureau.
- Applicants must be at least 21 years old and should not meet the definition of a prohibited person under Section 922(g) of the Gun Control Act of 1968.
- Is not habitually inebriated or addicted to controlled substances.
- Has not been declared mentally incompetent by a court.
- Has not incurred or belonged to organizations involved in acts of violence, or directed to the overthrow of the constituted government.
- Has not been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces, or removed from any of the law enforcement agencies of the Government of Puerto Rico or its municipalities.
- Is not under a court order which prohibits harassing, stalking, threatening, or proximity to an intimate partner, the children of the latter or to any person, and who does not have a record of violence.
- Is not a person who, having been a citizen of the United States at a given time, has renounced said citizenship.
- Has submitted a sworn statement attesting to compliance with fiscal laws; it being established that it shall be grounds to deny the issue of the license applied for or to revoke the same if the petitioner has failed to comply with the fiscal laws of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
- Has purchased a $100 internal revenue stamp payable to the Puerto Rico Police; Provided, That in those cases whereby the license is denied, the amount paid shall not be reimbursed.
- Has submitted, together with the application, 1 sworn statement from 3 persons that are not related by consanguinity or affinity to the petitioner and that under penalty of perjury, attest to the fact that the petitioner enjoys a good reputation in the community, that he/she does not have a tendency to commit acts of violence, and that therefore they have no objection to the petitioner owning firearms. This statement shall be made in the form provided by the Superintendent along with the application for a weapons license.
- Has submitted a negative certification of debt from the Child Support Administration, issued not later than 30 days prior to the date of the application.
Once approved, license holders are limited to purchasing ammunition of the same caliber as their firearm and are only legally allowed to own a maximum of 2 firearms. There are exceptions regarding acquisitions through inheritance, or when the licensee holds a target shooting or hunting permit, in which case there shall be no established limit. The only condition is that if a gun owner owns 15 weapons or more shall be bound to maintain 80 percent of guns locked in a safe place that is fixed to the real property in such a manner that the weapons cannot be easily removed.
Any person who owns a gun without a license to do so shall be guilty of a felony with a penalty of imprisonment for a fixed term of 5 years. Should there be aggravating circumstances, the penalty established may be increased to a maximum of 10 years
If a gun owner has not requested a renewal within the established term, the person shall incur an administrative fault and shall have to pay 3 times the accrued cost of the renewal fee.
Below is the Legal Text:
Section 456a. Weapons license
(a) The Superintendent shall issue a weapons license to any petitioner who meets the following requirements:
(1) Has reached the age of 21 years.
(2) Has a negative criminal record certificate issued not later than 30 days prior to the date of the application and has not been accused of, nor is pending or in the process of trial for any of the crimes listed in § 456j of this title or its equivalent, in Puerto Rico, the United States or abroad.
(3) Is not habitually inebriated or addicted to controlled substances.
(4) Has not been declared mentally incompetent by a court.
(5) Has not incurred or belonged to organizations involved in acts of violence, or directed to the overthrow of the constituted government.
(6) Has not been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces, or removed from any of the law enforcement agencies of the Government of Puerto Rico or its municipalities.
(7) Is not under a court order which prohibits harassing, stalking, threatening, or proximity to an intimate partner, the children of the latter or to any person, and who does not have a record of violence.
(8) Is a citizen of the United States, or a legal resident of Puerto Rico.
(9) Is not a person who, having been a citizen of the United States at a given time, has renounced said citizenship.
(10) Has submitted a sworn statement attesting to compliance with fiscal laws; it being established that it shall be grounds to deny the issue of the license applied for or to revoke the same if the petitioner has failed to comply with the fiscal laws of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
(11) Has purchased a $100 internal revenue stamp payable to the Puerto Rico Police; Provided, That in those cases whereby the license is denied, the amount paid shall not be reimbursed.
(12) Has submitted, together with the application, 1 sworn statement from 3 persons that are not related by consanguinity or affinity to the petitioner and that under penalty of perjury, attest to the fact that the petitioner enjoys a good reputation in the community, that he/she does not have a tendency to commit acts of violence, and that therefore they have no objection to the petitioner owning firearms. This statement shall be made in the form provided by the Superintendent along with the application for a weapons license.
(13) Has submitted the completed application, under oath, before a notary, accompanied by an impression of his/her fingerprints, taken by a technician of the Puerto Rico Police or a competent federal or state government agency, and that includes 2 color photographs, 2 inches by 2 inches in size, sufficiently recent as to depict the petitioner in his/her true aspect at the time of the application.
(14) Has submitted a negative certification of debt from the Child Support Administration, issued not later than 30 days prior to the date of the application.
(b) Every duly completed application, in duplicate, and together with the documents and voucher indicated above, shall be filed with the General Police Headquarters or the law enforcement agency of the area in which the applicant resides. The applicant shall retain a sealed copy for his/her records. Within the term of 5 working days, the Superintendent shall issue a certification stating that the application and all the required documents have been submitted, or shall require compliance with the requirements for the application in order to issue the certification. After said certificate is issued, the Superintendent shall determine and certify in writing, within a term that shall not exceed 120 calendar days, that the applicant meets the requirements established in this chapter for granting a weapons license. This may be achieved through an investigation in the files of any government agency in Puerto Rico, the United States, or abroad, to which he/she may have access (including the archives of the National Crime Information Center and the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, among others). Should the Superintendent’s investigation result in a finding indicating that the person fails to meet all the requirements established in this chapter, the weapons license shall not be granted, but without it constituting an impairment, the applicant shall not be prevented from requesting said license again in the future. Should the Superintendent fail to issue a determination within the above mentioned term of 120 days, he/she shall be bound to issue a special provisional permit in favor of the applicant, within a term of 10 calendar days. Said special provisional permit shall grant all the rights, privileges and prerogatives of a regular license to carry weapons, for a term of 60 calendar days, during which period the Superintendent [should reach] a decision. If upon the conclusion of the effectiveness of said provisional permit, the Superintendent has not yet reached a decision as to the suitability of the applicant, said provisional permit shall automatically become a regular weapons license.
(c) The Superintendent, discretionally and unobtrusively, without disrupting the peace and tranquility of the person under investigation or breaching the privacy of his/her home, may conduct as many investigations as he/she deems pertinent after remitting the license to the applicant; Provided, That regardless of whether the investigations are conducted or not, this shall not be an impediment for the license to be remitted under the terms indicated above. If after the pertinent investigation has been conducted by the Superintendent, it is found that the applicant has knowingly furnished false information in his/her application or does not meet the requirements established in this chapter, the license shall be immediately revoked and seized, as well as all the firearms and ammunition held by the applicant, who shall be subject to prosecution for the crime of perjury and for the corresponding violations of this chapter. Any citizen to whom a license and/or permit is issued shall be responsible for the use of the licenses and the handling of the weapons, releasing the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, its departments, agencies and municipalities from any liability for said individual use, except when these are vicariously liable for the acts of their employees or agents.
(d) The weapons license established in this section empowers the licensee to be the owner of a maximum of 2 firearms, except as provided below, regarding acquisitions through inheritance, or when the licensee holds a target shooting or hunting permit, in which case there shall be no established limit. Provided, That any licensee who owns 15 weapons or more shall be bound to maintain 80% of these locked in a safe place fixed to the real property in such a manner that the weapons cannot be easily removed. Any licensee under the obligation to fulfill the safety requirement shall submit to the Superintendent a sworn statement attesting to the fact that he/she is in compliance with the safety requirement. The Superintendent shall impose an administrative fine of $1,000 for each weapon property of the licensee that is removed due to noncompliance with the safety measures established herein. These safety requirements and the corresponding fine shall apply to any person who has more than 15 weapons in his/her possession: all licensees shall display in a conspicuous area visible to the clientele a clearly legible announcement notifying of this requirement. The license also empowers the licensee to acquire, buy, sell, donate, transfer, assign, hold, possess, have custody of and transport, bear and carry firearms, ammunition and any pertinent accessory anywhere under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; Provided, That:
(1) The firearms may be borne, carried, and transported in a hidden or unobtrusive manner, and the Superintendent shall provide by regulations, the procedure for any law enforcement officer as described herein, to issue a courtesy ticket which shall be prepared to such effect, which shall be remitted to the Puerto Rico Police Weapons License Office, to be filed with the record of the licensee. The Superintendent may impose a fine of up to $200 for recidivism in carrying or transporting arms in an ostentatious or conspicuous manner, as well as the procedure for the revision of the same, at the request of the interested party upon whom the fine is imposed. The Superintendent shall hold an administrative hearing within a term of not more than 45 days to uphold, review, modify or eliminate the imposed fine.
(2) Unless the licensee also holds a permit to carry weapons, the weapon may not be carried by the licensee on his/her person; and that to be able to transport said weapon without a permit to carry, the weapon must be unloaded and transported inside a closed case whose contents are not visible and which may not be in plain sight. Provided, That in the case of private security guards who hold a permit to carry, are uniformed and in the exercise of their duties, they may carry the weapon in plain sight.
(3) That the firearms or ammunition may only be donated, sold, transferred, assigned, left in the custody, or otherwise conveyed by the transfer of the control or command of the same to persons who own a weapons or gunsmith license or to any of the persons mentioned in §456c of this title.
(4) The licensee may only transport one firearm at a time, except those licensees who also hold target shooting or hunting permits, who shall not be limited as to the number of firearms to be carried on their person while on the premises of an authorized gun club or in those places in which the hunting sport is practiced, pursuant to the applicable laws.
(5) The licensee shall only purchase ammunition of the caliber used by the weapons that he/she owns registered to his/her name.
(6) This license does not authorize the licensee to engage in the business of purchasing and selling firearms, limiting the purchase and sale thereof to his/her personal weapons.
(7) That this weapons license does not authorize the licensee to engage in the business of purchasing and selling firearms or ammunition, limiting the purchase and sale of the same to his/her personal firearms and ammunition.
(e) Within the term of 45 days from the date the weapons license is received, which may be extended for 30 additional days if requested within the original term, any licensee shall file a certification issued by an authorized official of a gun club authorized in Puerto Rico, if he/she has not filed it before with the Puerto Rico Police General Headquarters, personally or by certified mail with acknowledgement of receipt, to the effect that the petitioner has approved a course in the correct and safe use and handling of firearms pursuant to this chapter. If the applicant fails to do so, he/she shall incur an administrative fault of $100 for each month in arrears, for up to a maximum of months, at the end of which the license shall be revoked and seized, as well as any weapon and ammunition the petitioner has acquired. For these purposes, the Superintendent shall authorize the purchase of up to a maximum of 500 rounds of ammunition in addition to those allowed by this chapter. Said ammunition shall have to be used completely by the petitioner during the training for certification. The provisions of this subsection shall not impair the provisions of subsection (d)(7) of this section. The Superintendent shall handle any claim from the persons who for health reasons or special circumstances beyond their control are unable to comply with the certification duty imposed herein. In any case in which the Superintendent grants an extension, the new term for compliance with the requirements shall begin 10 days after the circumstances that led to the extension are no longer extant.
(f) The Puerto Rico Police shall issue the duplicates of weapons license cards that a licensee may want within a term of thirty (30) calendar days upon request after having paid $50 in internal revenue vouchers per duplicate. In case of a change in license category, the cost for the category change shall be $20. Every weapons license shall have the date on which it must be updated, which shall be 5 years after its issue, and no person may make any transaction of a firearm or ammunition, nor shoot in a gun club, nor hunt, bear, carry, or transport weapons, if he/she has not applied for the updating thereof as indicated in this chapter, under penalty that the weapons license be revoked and an administrative fine of $500 be imposed for shooting in a gun club or hunting, bearing, carrying or transporting weapons. After 6 months have elapsed from the due date, he/she may only sell his/her firearms to a person with a dealer license. Every 5 years, on the fifth anniversary of the date of issue of the weapons license, the petitioner shall be bound to renew his/her license, by executing a sworn statement addressed to the Superintendent of Police, upon payment of the Internal Revenue vouchers provided in § 2.02 of this Act, stating that the circumstances that gave rise to the original granting remain the same, or indicating the manner in which they have changed. This renewal may be made within 6 months before, or 30 days after the date the weapons license has expired. Failure to renew said weapons license after the abovementioned 30 days, shall entail an administrative fine of 50 per month for up to a maximum of 6 months, [the] amount which must be paid as a requirement for renewal. If the weapons license is not renewed within 6 months, the Superintendent shall revoke the same and seize the weapons and ammunition[; Provided, That] the licensee may renew and reinstate his/her license within up to 6 additional months after the revocation or seizure, whichever is later, through the payment of twice the amount of the accrued fine. None of the above shall prevent a person whose license has been revoked though failure to act, from de novo applying for another license which shall be granted, provided he/she has paid any fines pending, in which case, he/she may recover the seized weapons if the Superintendent has not yet disposed of them. It is hereby provided that in the event the licensee is residing outside of Puerto Rico on the date the renewal of the license is due, or during the renewal period indicated above, the license shall not expire within the 30 days of the licensee’s return to Puerto Rico. It is further provided that if the licensee happens to be a woman, and if she were pregnant on the date the renewal of the license is due or during the period of renewal mentioned above, said period shall not expire until 90 days have elapsed after the birth. In any case in which a pregnant women is bound, under the provisions of this chapter, to submit a training certificate, the term to submit the same shall begin 90 days after the birth. The Superintendent shall notify every licensee by mail to his/her mailing address, the date on which his/her license must be renewed, 6 months prior to its expiration date. The Superintendent shall make available through the area police stations, the gunsmiths, and the Internet, all the forms needed to execute the renewal. Once the license has been renewed, the Superintendent shall issue the new license upon payment of the renewal fee, within the following 30 calendar days, unless there is just cause to delay doing so. Every licensee shall inform the Superintendent of his/her change of residential or mailing address within 30 days of the change, under penalty of an administrative fine of $200, which shall be paid as a requirement for renewing the license.
(g) A person may at any time surrender his/her weapons license to the Police for its cancellation, and also surrender his/her weapons to the Police, or transfer the same to another person who owns a weapons or gunsmith license in force.
(h) It shall not be a requirement to own any firearms to obtain a weapons license and its categories
Section 458e. Possession without a license.
Any person who has or owns, but is not carrying a firearm without a license to do so, shall be guilty of a felony and upon conviction shall be punished with a penalty of imprisonment for a fixed term of 5 years. Should there be aggravating circumstances, the penalty established may be increased to a maximum of 10 years; should there be mitigating circumstances, it may be reduced to a minimum of 1 year. Notwithstanding the above, when a person incurs conduct prohibited in this section without the intention of committing a crime with his/her own unlicensed firearm, and the person has never been convicted for a violation of this chapter, Act No. 348 of December 21, 1999, §§ 1476–1482 of Title 32, or Act No. 27 of January 10, 2002, or any crimes provided under § 456j of this title, and the weapon has not been reported as stolen or illegally appropriated, he/she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished with a penalty of imprisonment for a term of not more than 6 months, a fine that shall not exceed $5,000 or both penalties at the discretion of the court. The court, in its discretion, may impose the penalty of rendering community services in lieu of the established penalty of imprisonment. In the event that the owner of the weapon shows satisfactory evidence that he/she owns a weapons license, although expired, and that he/she has requested its renewal within the term provided by this chapter, he/she shall not be guilty of any crime. If he/she has not requested its renewal within the established term, he/she shall incur an administrative fault and shall have to pay 3 times the accrued cost of the renewal fee.
What are the State Laws on Private Sales of Guns in Puerto Rico?
The legal landscape for private gun sales in Puerto Rico underwent significant changes with the enactment of the Weapons Act of 2020. This law brought about certain liberalizations to firearms legislation in the territory, aligning it more closely with regulations followed in the U.S. mainland. Key changes include:
- Mandatory firearm license requirement for Puerto Rico residents who wish to own firearms.
- All firearms in Puerto Rico must be registered, including those acquired through private sales.
When engaging in a private gun sale in Puerto Rico, both the buyer and the seller must possess a valid firearms license. The purchase, donation, transfer, assignment, and sale of firearms and ammunition between private licensed persons shall be made through the Firearms Licensing Office or before a licensed dealer upon conducting an electronic criminal background check of the buyer through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. If at the time of the transaction the buyer is unlicensed for he is still in the application process, the weapons and/or ammunition shall be left in the custody of the gun shop or of a licensed person until the process is completed and the buyer is issued the license. Such transaction shall be recorded by the dealer or the Firearms Licensing Office in the Electronic Registry.
Any person who fails to comply will face a fine not to exceed one thousand (1,000) dollars. In the event of a second conviction for the same offense, the person convicted shall be punished by a fine of not less than one thousand and one (1,001) dollars and not more than five thousand (5,000) dollars, or by imprisonment for a term that shall not exceed three (3) months, or both penalties, at the discretion of the court. In the case of a third conviction for the same offense, or a repeat offender, the person shall be punished with the same penalties imposed for a second conviction, and the court shall also order the “Puerto Rico Weapons Act of 2020” [Act No. 168-2019, as amended] Firearms Licensing Office to revoke his firearms license immediately and indefinitely as well as to seize all firearms and ammunition that the convict possesses.
FEDERAL DISQUALIFICATION CATEGORIES
- Conviction (felony or misdemeanor) where the crime has a maximum imprisonment term exceeding 1 year (even if a buyer did not receive actual imprisonment exceeding 1 year).
- Warrant (felony or out-of-state misdemeanor).
- Felony pre-trial release.
- Misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence restraining/stalking/protection order mental health adjudication or commitment.
- Unlawful use or addicted to a controlled substance (including marijuana).
- Dishonorable discharge from the armed forces.
- Renounced U.S. citizenship.
- Illegal alien.
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The information contained on this website has been prepared as a service to the internet community and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Dunlap Gun Buyers has used reasonable efforts in collecting, preparing, and providing quality information and material, but does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, completeness, adequacy, or currency of the information contained in or linked to this website. Users of information from this website or links do so at their own risk and should consult their local firearm law resources and/or an attorney when engaging in selling a firearm. The cited information in this article was obtained on 07/11/2023 at www.atf.gov/firearms/docs/guide/puerto-rico-firearms-statutes-and-codes/download bvirtualogp.pr.gov/ogp/Bvirtual/leyesreferencia/PDF/2-ingles/168-2019.pdf