Dear Mexican: Like many Americans, I've heard about the "Fast and Furious" scandal in which our own ATF was shown to be corrupt and guilty of supplying guns that ended up in the hands of the drug cartels. I also recently saw a report about the violence in Mexico, and it stated that there is only one place in all of Mexico for a citizen to purchase a firearm. But just across the border in the U.S., there are hundreds of gun stores, in addition to an ATF that is apparently willing to supply guns to them.
Now, I'm not much of a gun proponent or opponent. However, I do know that firepower makes cartels powerful, and the drug violence coming out of Mexico is hard to ignore. In light of the fact that Mexicans can only legally obtain one gun, purchased from one location (if they meet all the requirements), what are the statistics for gun ownership in Mexico? How does the Mexican culture differ when it comes to the average citizen and their view of safety and their right to protect themselves? But really, my main question is: one gun store? Curious Jorge
Dear Pocho: While I'm no fan of the Obama administration, isn't it so gabacho for Obama critics to only care about the smuggling of guns into Mexico when they can embarrass him with it? Mexicans have been buying guns in the States and sneaking them into Mexico since the days of the Magón brothers. And Ronald Reagan sold arms to the Contras — or was that OK, because he was fighting supposed commies?
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Back to the question: Mexicans love their guns as much as they love salsa, and while the Mexican government highly regulates sales of guns (although nowhere near as stringently as the one-shop rule you heard), gun violence is still high. A July 2012 post by The Guardian cited stats that showed Mexico's gun ownership rate was 15 per 100 people (42nd highest country in the world), which paled en comparación to the U.S.'s astounding número uno rate of 88.8 per 100. The homicide by firearm rate per 100,000 in the U.S. was 2.97, while the Mexico cifra was 9.97. As for the percentage of homicides due to firearms? Mexis had 54.9 percent, while Americans clock in at 60 percent. One huge caveat, though: The report was compiled based on stats from 2007, well before the narcowars engulfed most of the country. With a police force as ineffectual as the GOP's Latino outreach program, the right to bear arms for Mexicans isn't just some highfalutin constitutional ideal — it's usually the only way to ensure you stay alive.