Guatemals's labour-intensive agrarian economy has concentrated power in the hands of wealthy landowners. Their interests have traditionally been protected through a violent succession fo right-wing military regimes (Wright, 1992, p.266). Throughout Guatemala's history, firearm controls have typically appeared in times of political unrest and were considered necessary to maintain the ecomonic and political status quo (Simkin, et al., 1994, pp.230-231).
Gun controls in Guatemala have been designed to prohibit firearm ownership among the lower economic classes. Expensive licensing fees, firearm registration and prohibitive licensing combined with prohibitions against all firearms chambered for "military" cartridges, has eliminated firearm ownership among the Mayan population who are considered second-class citizens and exploited as cheap labour (Simkin, et al., 1994, p.231, p.233).
When Mayans began demonstrating for land reforms in the 1960's and 1970's, the military governments responded with a brutal campaign of violent repression (Simkin, et al., p.230, p.234; Wright, 1992, pp.263-274).