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Here’s part 2 of the tale of my quest for a porto d’armi (dun permit). You can find part 1 HERE.
Having obtained my two certificati medici (medical certificates) and my Diploma Di Idoneità Al Maneggio Delle Armi I must now pay a visit to i Carabinieri and present them with my rather impressive sheaf of paperwork. But first I just need to pop to il tabaccaio (the tobacconists) for yet another couple of marche da bollo da sedici euro, and then it’s off to le poste (the post office) to pay 1 euro and 27 cents for my libretto (little booklet, in this case the actual gun permit itself). Finally, the cherry on the cake: the post office charge on my €1.27 transaction is €1.50! Yes the transaction fee costs more than the price of the libretto. Mah! come diciamo in Italia.
Down at la caserma (the barracks), the Carabinieri are their usual polite and efficient selves. They check through the paperwork, see that all is in order, and tell me that it’ll take about un mese e mezzo (a month and a half) to process and release my porto d’armi. Bene, finalmente ci siamo!
Check out this cool Tiro A Segno Nazionale hat that they gave at the range!
In Sintesi (In Summary)
So, what are my personal feelings about the process of obtaining a gun permit in Italy? Well firstly, I’m in total agreement with it. I find it very reassuring that if someone wants to own a firearm their physical, and more importantly, mental health must be certified, and that they must demonstrate they can safely and competently handle firearms.
Could it be that this lengthy process, together with the very strict controls on permitted firearm types, size of magazines in semi-automatic weapons, and amounts of ammunition that one is able to keep at home, helps to contribute to Italy’s relatively low rate of firearms deaths? These matters are always complex and controversial, and I don’t have an answer, but it’s interesting to take a look at this international List of firearms related homicides per 100,000 people
More generally, my quest for a porto d’armi is pretty typical of the long and winding journeys that Italians regularly need to undertake, and often for far more banal motives than obtaining a gun permit. Typically, one is sent from office a. to office b. then on to office d. where they send you back to office c. Office c. inform you that in order to complete your mission you need to go to the tobacconists for a marca da bollo, then back over to office b. who’ll timbrare (stamp) it for you before sending you back to office a. Office a., you find, is now uninhabited, and no one knows where the person who should be there actually is … but they’re quite likely at the bar having their merenda (morning snack break).
That’s just the way it is folks. Be prepared to traipse along endless corridors from one department to another, and pass eternal periods of boredom in dull waiting rooms. I advise taking a good book with you.
Occasionally, during your bureaucratic quests, you’ll meet fellow weary travellers, and like survivors of some great catastrophe, you’ll bond with them, forming a sense of camaraderie at the injustice of it all. You recount each other tales of previous quests which you’ve undertaken for this or that bureaucratic purpose, each of you trying to outdo the other by citing extreme lengths of times spent in waiting rooms, or numbers of different departments that you’ve been sent to.
Important note: if you have ‘friends’ in the right places, then secret passages, unknown to the general riff-raff, will magically appear, allowing you to circumvent ‘certain formalities’ (i.e. jump the queue). Hence, my friends, study your Italian well, as it’s hard to make those ‘useful special friends’ without it! 😉
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