Publisher’s note: The following article is the first in what we hope will become a regular feature of the M1911 Pistols Organization’s e-zine: A concise look at the legal and cultural situation pertaining to firearms ownership, use, and the right to keep and bear arms in various countries around the world. Our thanks to M1911.ORG member Gerardo Pagoto for compiling this report for us.
A look at firearms laws and usage in the land of the vaqueros.
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My country, Argentina, used to have a very rich gun culture. Our ancestors – mostly people from Italy, Spain, some from Switzerland and a few Germans – loved firearms and hunting. Our oldest gun club is located in the city of Rosario. Called Tiro Suizo (or “Swiss Shoot”), it was founded in 1895, over a century ago.
Current firearms laws:
On the topic of our current gun laws, they mostly date from the early 1970s. We are allowed to own firearms with few limitations. The regulation of firearms belongs to the "RENAR," which means Registro Nacional de Armas. (In English this would be translated as the “National Registry of Firearms.”) In order to own a firearm, first you need to be a Legitimo usuario (Legitimate firearms user) and you must have a Credencial de Legitimo usuario (Legitimate firearms user credential). This is sometimes referred to by the acronym CLU.
In order to become a Legitimate firearms user, you have to meet a certain criteria:
1) You must be a native Argentinean or be a permanent resident and actually live in Argentina, and you must be at least 21 years old
2) You must make a declaration of where you live and where are you going to store your firearms.
3) You must provide proof that you have a legal income.
4) You must pass a psychological test and a medical test.
5) You must pass a safety test on the use of firearms.
6) You must not have any criminal record.
You are required to renew a CLU every five years.
Carry permits are restricted to a few people, who can show a need for carrying a firearm in public. For example, people who carry large sums of money or people who are in real danger.
Possessing a CLU allows you to buy firearms. Which type? Revolvers, Semi-automatic pistols, shotguns, and rifles. There are some limitations within these types:
- Shotguns with a barrel that is shorter than 14" are illegal to own.
- Rifles that are .50 or bigger are illegal to own (with a FEW exceptions, such as hunting rifles).
- Military semi-automatic rifles like FAL and AK47 need a special authorization.
- Full-auto firearms are Illegal (unless you are registered collector, which case you can OWN but NOT USE).
How many guns are we allowed to own? All the guns we want, as long we can pay for them. After we get more than ten firearms we must make a declaration of what type of security we have in our house. We don't need to be members of any shooting club to be able to be a Legitimate user of firearms. Although in my case I am a member of two clubs: one is near my job and I can go all days during the week, and the other is a bigger club that I go to on the weekends.
The national shooting center, "Tiro Federal Argentino"
The main entrance to the Tiro Federal. The motto on the edge of the
canopy translates (approximately) as "Here we learn to defend the country."
An Argentinean Mauser Model of 1909 at the Tiro Federal Argentino shooting range
in Buenos Aires. This is a one-time Argentinean military service rifle ... what would be
termed a "mil-surp" (for "military surplus") in the United States.
Most of the clubs have formal shooting competitions, of several different types:
1) Air handgun rifle (this one is an Olympic sport and, to be honest, I don't know a lot since I don’t shoot this type of firearm or competition).
2) Air powered handgun (same as above).
3) .22LR rifle competitions: 50 meters, open sights
4) Youth .22LR rifle competitions: 50 meters, open sights
5) Centerfire rifle: military-style, 150 meters, open sights
7) Centerfire pistols: 10 meters
8) Centerfire pistol: 25 meters (here we call this “military pistol”)
9) FBI revolver: 5 shots, where the objective is to shoot a target with a 2" inch revolver at 15 meters in 5 seconds
12) Shotgun: Just about everything – trap, sporting clays, hunting simulations. Shotguns are quite popular in Argentina, with Beretta being the favorite brand (and a lot more that I don't remember right now).
The IPSC chronograph station at the Tiro Federal Argentino range
Skeet shooting area at the Tiro Federal
The skeet field at the Tiro Federal
To own, for example, 9x19 ammunition you must first own a 9x19 firearm. You are not allowed to own ammunition for firearms you DON'T OWN. Ammunition is readily available but not cheap, so everybody that wants to shoot in quantity must reload. Our government, even if they are not very gun friendly and have a lot of pressure from anti-gun groups, sells nationally-made sporting powder which is a cheap alternative to the American-made powders. Also, we have our bullet factory, which unfortunately only makes handgun bullets; if we want to reload rifle we must get Sierra, Barnes, or Hornady among other brands. Primers are also made here in Argentina, by the Jose Imaz Company. They are quite good; not at the level of CCI, but good enough to be used in IPSC and IDPA competitions.
Argentina has an organization that is somewhat like the NRA in the United States: ALUTARA, or Asociación de Legítimos Usuarios y Tenedores de Armas de la República Argentina (the Association of Legitimate Users and Owners of Firearms of the Republic of Argentina). Their motto is "Desenfundá tus derechos," or "Defending your rights." They have a web site (in Spanish, naturally), which you can find here if you read Spanish: http://www.alutara.org.ar/
The organization's objectives (translated as well as we can) are as follow:
ALUTARA is a non-profit, civil association, founded by Legitimate Users of Firearms, in order to defend the right to legal possession of firearms, to raise awareness of their responsible use, to promote sports activities that involve them and to contribute to the advancement of the registration system.
According to their charter, ALUTARA (Association of Legitimate Users and Owners of Firearms of the Republic Argentina) has as its objectives:
a) To promote the safe and responsible use of firearms on the part of the Legitimate Users, and also to contribute to the this by the formation and implementation of programs of training.
b) In accordance with Article 21 of the National Constitution, to establish the norms in force in the matter, regarding the obligation to assemble in defense of the Country and as written in the Magna Carta, within the framework of the laws of Argentina that regulate it and regulations 20429, 23979, 24492, their normative Decrees, Resolutions of the Department of Defense of the Nation and Dispositions of the National Registry of Firearms, and the resulting application.
c) To assist and to give support to the Legitimate Users, whether they are physical persons or legal entities, promoting sportsmanship within the disciplines associated with the activity of the same, encouraging events and competition through giving support to the teams that represent the Republic of Argentina Olympic competition, and in world or other national or international competitions.
d) To contribute to the defense and advancement of the registration system of financial and technical cooperation created by the laws 20429, 23283, 23979 and 24492, and of all another activity that directly or indirectly affects of the property and legal ownership of firearms.
e) To contribute, when it is deemed to be required or coordinated, in the aid, instruction, and training in the specifics of personal security forces and/or police.
f) To establish partnerships and financial and technical covenants of cooperation with public or private companies, national or internatonal, and/or with persons with a visible presence related to the work of firearms, whose activities may be of use to the objectives of the Association, and also to appoint regional coordinators, to integrate commissions or sports and academic counsels, in order to fulfill the Institutional objectives.
g) To conduct courses, conferences, exhibitions, seminars, tours and all another meetings or exchanges of ideas that will further the ends of the Association.
h) To sponsor the formation of chapters or others type of representation, both within the country and beyond.
i) To assist and to give support to hunters and to the activity of hunting in ways that are favorable to the protection of the fauna, flora and the ecosystem in general, to agree to the terms established in the National Constitution and the laws and norms that regulate it.
j) To represent the Legitimate Users, in conformance with these objectives, before the authorities that constitute the National Constitution and before the authorities in their distinct levels and jurisdictions. Likewise all another activity that, directly or indirectly, affects the Legitimate Users and their private firearms.
k) To collaborate with national and/or provincial authorities in the fight against the illegal use and trafficking of firearms.
It is also worth noting that Argentina has an arms industry. Argentina is the home of Bersa firearms, and also of the FM Hi-Power, which is an excellent clone of the FN Hi-Power, manufactured in Argentina under license from FN Herstal. Bersa firearms are exported to the United States and include several reasonably priced and fairly popular small and mid-sized semi-automatic pistols that are popular for concealed, self defense carry. The FM Hi-Power (pictured below) is of excellent quality and is well-regarded both in Argentina and elsewhere when and if it available. The FM Hi-Power has been exported to the United States, but currently domestic demand absorbs all available production, so very few of them are now exported.
An FM Hi-Power
Gerardo Pagoto is 26 years old and has been involved in the shooting sports since he was 9. Gerardo lives in the capital of Argentina, Ciudad Autonoma de Buenos Aires, which is located in the Province of Buenos Aires. He has been in the Army for several years.
Gerardo reports that shooting is his main hobby and that he spends a good amount of time reloading, shooting, or just modifying firearms to his personal taste.