It's nearly impossible to buy a gun in Mexico, but very easy to die from one.
Mexico has one of the world's highest firearm homicide rates with 4,254 murders a year, but only one gun store.
Mexican drug gangs and cartels get their weapons through private networks, making it easy to terrorize defenseless communities. In 2009, the farming town Colonia LeBaron, Chihuahua, long-plagued by gang intimidation and extortion, witnessed both a kidnapping of a boy and two murders. Fed up with local police efforts, residents are now campaigning for the ability to form vigilante militias; they want their own guns. For Chihuahua state deputy Alex LeBaron, increasing private gun ownership is social progress: ‘I think we're ready to come into the 21st century and be part of this whole global process of modernization. And this is one of them — gun laws’.
But changing laws is a long, hard process and living day-to-day in a country rife with guns possessed by the wrong people means that the people of Colonia LeBaron need a more immediate and practical solution. To arm yourself in Mexico, you would have to contact a proxy "straw-man buyer" across the border- a friend or family member in the United States who could buy one there for you.
The right to bear arms is one of the most hotly-contested and re-re-interpreted statutes of American law, in part because firearm massacres. As Alex LeBaron puts it: ‘We're Mexican citizens 100 per cent, and we have the right to bear arms, and we're going to keep fighting for that right as long as it takes.’
Blog post courtesy of Marika Lysandrou
Illustration: Ramon Pez