Puerto Rico’s gun sales surging nine months after Hurricane Maria
By Christen Smith
Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico when it made landfall Sept. 20, 2017. (Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)
Nearly a year after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the island’s recorded gun sales remain higher than ever, federal data shows.
Licensed dealers have transferred more than 18,000 firearms since September 2017, a 37 percent increase over the same nine-month time period recorded the year before. In the first six months of 2018, dealers sold 13,352 firearms — mostly handguns — eclipsing the first half of 2017 by 52 percent.
“There isn’t an adequate number of police to protect the citizens. There just isn’t,” Jose Robles, a retired police officer who lives in a town just outside of San Juan, told Topic during an interview last month. “That was evident in the emergency following Hurricane Maria … [police] had to leave the people without security. They couldn’t do both; there wasn’t enough [of them]. That’s the truth.”
Navigating the island territory’s complex gun laws often requires an attorney’s guidance, though it appears more residents are willing to take on the challenge as police coverage grows thinner by the day, according to local media reports.
In December and January, 20 percent of the island’s 1,300 officers went on strike after