SanSe weapons ban called unconstitutional
Ariel Torres Meléndez, president of the Corporation for the Defense of the Puerto Rico Weapons License Holder
By THE STAR STAFF
The San Juan municipal ordinance banning licensed gun owners from carrying weapons on public conveyances during the San Sebastián Street Festival is unconstitutional, Corporation for the Defense of the Puerto Rico Weapons License Holder (CODEPOLA) President Ariel Torres Meléndez said Monday.
CODEPOLA threatened to sue San Juan Mayor Miguel Romero Lugo to overturn the ordinance.
“The decent citizens of Puerto Rico should not be risking their safety when the State publicly tells criminals that people participating in Sanse 2023 will be completely unarmed, at the mercy of criminals,” Torres Meléndez said. “Criminals will not ask permission to carry their illegal weapons with them.”
Torres Meléndez insisted that if the municipality does not clarify its statements, CODEPOLA will seek a court injunction to defend the right to bear arms.
“What statistics or study on violence led the mayor of San Juan to conclude that a legal carrier is a security problem?” he asked.
The ban is part of the city council’s security plan, which includes 1,050 municipal and commonwealth police officers, 400 private security guards, and the installation of 420 cameras deployed in the capital city to provide security to between 85,000 and 110,000 people daily.
Torres Meléndez said it is worrying that “an official who believes in the safety of his parties does not make those statements that generate fear in people.”
“On the contrary, the legal bearer of weapons places his safety and that of his family in the training he received and allows him to carry the weapon for the good of his family,” he said.
The San Juan municipal administration issued a response later on Monday.
“This afternoon and through the media we learned of the statements made by the president of the Corporation for the Defense of the Puerto Rico Weapon License Holder (CODEPOLA), Ariel Torres Meléndez, in relation to the prohibition of carrying firearms in municipal vehicles that will transport Puerto Ricans to the Celebration of the Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián 2023,” San Juan city administrator Israel Alicea said in a written statement. “For the administration of Mayor Miguel A. Romero Lugo, one of the main priorities for the events that will be taking place during the Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián is the safety of all those who will participate in them. This is why not only the coordination of events has been worked on for several months, but also a Municipal Ordinance was constituted in order to establish the parameters for an orderly celebration of the festivities in the Isleta de San Juan.”
In addition, and among many other initiatives, Alicea said, so that the San Sebastián Street Festival can be carried out successfully and in an orderly manner, the San Juan Municipal Police, in collaboration with personnel from commonwealth and federal agencies, have “created a robust work plan to promote a safe environment for all attendees.”
As part of the effort, 1,450 police and security personnel composed of 550 municipal officers, 400 private police – armed and unarmed – and 500 from the commonwealth police will be activated, Alicea said.
“They will work 12-hour shifts to provide security in the Old San Juan perimeter,” the official said. “Likewise, 150 officers will be appointed at the transportation stations of Sagrado Corazón, Hiram Bithorn Stadium, North Capitol and South Capitol.”