The Guardia Civil's weapons storeroom. | Alejandro Sepúlveda

In Mallorca, 35,157 people have a firearms licence. In all, there are 85,256 controlled weapons. The most frequent licences are for hunting, followed by those for sport shooting. For self defence, only security guards, jewellers, justice personnel - judges and prosecutors - and quarry hauliers (who work with explosives) are allowed to carry them. In these cases only small arms are allowed.

Control of firearms on the island is the exclusive responsibility of the Guardia Civil - the weapons and explosives intervention group specifically. The group's facilities are located in a basement at the Palma Command. There is a bunker of security. In a storeroom, there are over 1,000 shotguns, rifles, carbines and pistols. There is also a blunderbuss; crossbows are also stored here.

The storeroom is for weapons for which licences have expired. In some cases owners have passed away, or the holders have given up the licence. All kinds of precautions are taken. It is verified that they aren't loaded: "We have never had an accident and I hope that remains the case," an officer says.

There is one type of weapon that no one, under any circumstances, can own - an automatic weapon, which is considered to be a weapon of war. Only the military or police forces have access to them.

The group also supervises pyrotechnic material that is transported on the island as well as explosives.

In order to obtain a licence, there are exams. The theory exam is held at the Command; the practical exam at a shooting range in Inca. Applicants must prove that they know how to handle a shotgun. The permit is renewed every five years or every three years for people aged 67 or more; they must also present a medical certificate.