The just gun store in every one of Mexico is situated behind a fortress-like wall surface on a greatly guarded armed forces base in Mexico City.

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Reporting from Mexico City—The just gun shop in every one of Mexico is behind a fortress-like wall on a greatly guarded military base.

To get in the Directorate the Arms and also Munitions Sales, customers have to undergo month of background checks — six files are required — and also then be frisked by uniformed soldiers.

The army-run save on the suburbs of Mexico City embodies the country’s cautious approach to firearms, and also a visit here illustrates the dramatically various ways 2 neighboring countries view guns, legally and also culturally.

Like the second Amendment in the joined States, Mexico’s Constitution assures the best to be afflicted with arms, yet it additionally stipulates that federal law “will determine the cases, conditions, requirements and also places” of pistol ownership. For plenty of Mexicans, also those who love guns, the thought of one unfettered best to owning one is perplexing.


Yet ~ above this issue, prefer so many aspects of life in Mexico, the affect of its an effective neighbor to the north is keenly felt: each day the military gun store sells top top average just 38 weapons to civilians, if an estimated 580 weapons are smuggled right into Mexico indigenous the unified States.

That paradox is progressively relevant given Mexico’s extraordinary levels of total violence, which have claimed an ext than 100,000 resides over the critical decade. Critical year to be Mexico’s deadliest because the government began releasing homicide statistics in 1997. This year, the violence is on monitor to surpass the record.

American guns are directly driving the violence, although U.S. Appetites for drugs and also rampant corruption among Mexican officials likewise play a role. Around 70% of weapons recovered by Mexican law enforcement officials from 2011 come 2016 were initially purchased native legal gun dealers in the unified States, follow to the office of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and also Explosives.

Mexican leaders have actually long complained around the phenomenon. In 2012, then-President Felipe Calderon set up a large billboard in the border city of Juarez that spelled out the expression “No much more weapons.” The letters, developed using crushed guns seized by authorities, were visible indigenous Texas.


Most trafficked guns are purchase in the U.S. From among the country’s more than 67,000 licensed gun certified dealer or from personal sellers that don’t hold a commonwealth license. When dealing from private sellers, buyers often aren’t compelled to current identification or submit to background checks.


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Hugo delight Gallegos Sanchez, 32, the Mexico City examines a handgun in ~ the Directorate the Arms and also Munitions Sales, the only outlet for legal pistol purchases in Mexico.

(Meghan Dhaliwal / for The Times)
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Gun buyers periodically wait for hours for your paperwork to be handle at Mexico’s Directorate of Arms and also Munitions Sales.

(Meghan Dhaliwal / for The Times)
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A customer takes shipment of a searching rifle at the Directorate that Arms and also Munitions Sales. Mexico law permits citizens to have one handgun for personal protection and up to ripe rifles, as long as they have the right to prove they are members of shooting or hunting clubs.

(Meghan Dhaliwal / because that The Times)
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A client walks the aisles that the Directorate the Arms and also Munitions Sales in Mexico City. Prospective buyers must existing at the very least six forms of identification, including proof the employment, and have a clean criminal record.

(Meghan Dhaliwal / because that The Times)
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Col. Eduardo Tellez Moreno, that runs the Directorate the Arms and also Munitions Sales, claimed he believes gun property is a privilege.

(Meghan Dhaliwal / for The Times)

Col. Eduardo Tellez Moreno points out the serial number provided to keep track the a handgun.

(Meghan Dhaliwal / for The Times)

Customer Eduardo Nieto Rodriguez the Mexico City, left, provides sure the serial number ~ above a handgun he’s buying matches the number on his registration.

(Meghan Dhaliwal / because that The Times)

A mexican soldier provides his rounds at the Directorate of Arms and also Munitions Sales, situated on an military base ~ above the outskirts of Mexico City.

(Meghan Dhaliwal / because that The Times)

By contrast, would-be gun owner in Mexico have to offer a birth certificate and also proof that they space employed, and have no criminal record. The atmosphere at the directorate is much more sterile 보다 at a U.S. Gun save or pawnshop. There space no moose top on the wall and no promotion specials. Guns stamped with the army’s logo design are preserved in locked cases and customers aren’t offered the opportunity to heft a rifle to your shoulder come see exactly how it feels.

Buyers spend hours shuffling between different counters to obtain their paperwork processed, wait for lengthy stretches under fluorescent lights in uncomfortable chairs. It feels a bit like the room of motor Vehicles, until one notices the no-nonsense military colonel running things and the machine-gun-toting soldiers patrolling the aisles.

The keep manager, Col. Eduardo Tellez, stated he trust gun property is a privilege. He sees his task as making sure firearms finish up in the hand of “moral and responsible” people only.

Current law allows citizens one handgun and up to ripe rifles if they can prove they space members of shooting or searching clubs. A separate permit that is an overwhelming to obtain is required to bring the weapons in public.

Hugo Gallegos Sanchez, 32, a police officer in Mexico City, made decision to purchase a handgun at the keep for an individual use since he to be concerned around rising crime.

“You require protection,” Gallegos said.

He invested months wait for his paperwork to be approved, but said he was happy come wait. Proper screening for gun owners is important, said Gallegos, who stated he likewise supports Mexico’s ban on heavy attack weapons.

“A civilian shouldn’t have the ability to have the same power together the military,” he said.

Whereas mexico leaders have actually long groused around firearms trafficked from the north, U.S. Gun control advocates have actually only recently begun to to mark the impact of lax American gun laws on Mexico and other countries.

“We have such a significant domestic problem that it can be difficult to get any oxygen associated to worldwide drug trafficking,” claimed Chelsea Parsons, an experienced at the center for American progress who freshly co-wrote a report detailing the impact of American firearms on Mexico. The report found that 66% of Mexico’s homicides to be committed through a gun in 2017, increase from 15% in 1997.

In recent months, mexican leaders have actually again seized ~ above the issue, in part to respond to headlines about the country’s spiraling violence and President Trump’s complaints the Mexico isn’t doing enough to protect against the northward circulation of migrants and also drugs.

President Enrique Peña Nieto carried the worry up at a news conference with Trump shortly prior to the 2016 presidential election, blaming the influx of U.S. Guns for “strengthening the cartels and other criminal establishments that produce violence in Mexico.” Candidates vying to replace him in Mexico’s July 1 presidential race are likewise using it together a rallying cry.

“Instead of threatening walls, instead of threatening to militarize the border, we demand that they prevent the circulation of eight from the United states to Mexico,” Ricardo Anaya that the National action Party said recently in the violence-ridden border state that Tamaulipas.

Front-runner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of the national Regeneration Movement has demanded a new investigation right into the defunct Fast and also Furious program, under i m sorry U.S. Federal agents allowed guns to it is in purchased illegally in the expect of tracing lock to leaders of Mexican medicine cartels. Jose Antonio Meade of the administer Institutional Revolutionary Party has dubbed for building of a “technological border” that would certainly detect vehicles crossing into Mexico bearing guns.

Gun control advocates ~ above both political parties of the border speak Mexican leader should also push the government to execute a much better job that ensuring that firearms issued come police and soldiers don’t loss into the hand of criminals, which countless often do.

They are also concerned about a new Trump administration proposal come deregulate the export of American guns by placing the business Department in fee of the application process instead of the State Department, which advocates say is much better suited to sweet the possible risks the firearm sales versus any benefits.

The proposed rule change, i beg your pardon was supposed to be published in the federal Register ~ above Thursday, has long been sought by gun suppliers eager because that easier accessibility to worldwide markets, yet advocates concern it might put more guns in the hands of corrupt governments.

U.S. Rep. Norma Torres (D-Pomona) presented a bill that would certainly limit the impact of together a change, and also legislation that would certainly make gun smuggling a commonwealth crime. Torres claimed she has not search to attract attention to her occupational to prevent arms trafficking because she is wary of pushback indigenous gun industry teams such as the national Rifle Assn.

“This do not do it be a controversy,” she claimed in a current telephone interview. “It must be around how carry out we help Mexico address its violence.”

She stated Mexican authorities commonly raise the issue of gun smuggling in meetings v American officials.

“It’s something they carry up in every conversation,” Torres said. To reduce the flow of weapons south, she said, “is something we have to do if us care around our connection with Mexico.”

Back in ~ the gun store external Mexico City, pistol enthusiast Fausto Gerard to be helping a friend buy a rifle. Gerard works for a Slovakian gun manufacturer, grand Power, that sells guns to the mexico military. The is the silent partner in a gun store in the U.S. That is passionate about bringing the sport of target shoot to Mexico.

Still, that thinks boundaries are OK.

“It’s an excellent to have actually liberties, however there needs to be a device for control,” he said. He said he would assistance even more restrictions, consisting of screening for psychological illness among gun buyers.

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But he thinks Mexico can do more to encourage world to buy weapons legally. Having just one gun keep in the entire country is impractical, that said. It might even encourage human being to buy guns coming in indigenous the united States.

“In Tijuana or Juarez,” the said, “it’s much easier buying a pistol on the black market.”