Mexican Crime Wave Prompts Calls for Citizens to Be Armed in Cars and Businesses
A lawmaker’s proposal to loosen gun laws so Mexican citizens can arm themselves in their cars and at their businesses faces stiff opposition here despite record numbers of gun homicides and a surge in public transit robberies that has provoked a vengeful backlash by armed vigilantes.
Residents of Naucalpan, a city located just northwest of Mexico City, are living in a state of “psychosis,” and “terror,” due to a wave of murders, kidnappings and robberies in recent months, according to the Mexico City daily El Universal.
Armed assaults on public transit have provoked a deadly response by armed vigilantes riding buses, as well as calls by passengers for more vigilantism, the newspaper said.
Recent car hijackings and armed assaults of drivers stuck in traffic in broad daylight on major thoroughfares in Mexico City have also received widespread publicity.
Against that background, Senator Jorge Luis Preciado has proposed to modify Mexico’s Constitution so citizens can carry guns inside their cars and at their businesses.
The right to bear arms was inserted into the Constitution in 1857 partly influenced by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, according to a press release issued by the senator’s center-right opposition party, PAN.
But Article 10 of the Mexican Constitution doesn’t allow legally armed citizens to take their guns outside their homes.
Preciado wants to modify the article so citizens can carry inside their cars and business owners can have a gun at their workplace.
The PAN release quoted a lawmaker from the Labor Party, Senator Martha Palafox Gutiérrez, as saying the proposal to modify Mexico’s gun law is the result of a “climate of frustration, impotence, anger, and rage and realization that Mexico’s institutions are overrun by crime.”
“Criminals have a monopoly on violence because they already acquire all the illegal U.S. firearms that cross the border,” Preciado recently told the online publication, Fusion.net.
“What I want is for them to know that the next time they plan to rob a business, a house or a car they can expect some form of defense on the other side.”
His proposal is supported by some citizens’ groups including anti-kidnapping and gun owners’ groups, while others, including the Institute for Security and Democracy have condemned it, according to the PAN release.
“We are not in agreement with the proposal,” Francisco Rivas, head of the widely respected national crime watch group “Observatorios Nacional Ciudadano,” told CNSNews.com in an interview.
“A weapon is a risk factor. With more weapons, there will be more violence.”
Homicides committed with firearms in Mexico hit record levels in August and September of this year, surpassing anything seen since monitoring began in 1997, according to Rivas’ group.
Killings totaled 1,338 nationally in August, and 1,328 in September, he said.
Guns can be purchased legally in Mexico only from the office of the Secretary of Defense in Mexico City at a cost of approximately $1,000 per weapon, Rivas said.
The senator’s proposal would open 31 defense department locations across Mexico for legal arms purchases.
The vast majority of firearms seized by authorities in Mexico come from the U.S., according to a January 2016 Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) report.
Of 73,684 firearms seized in Mexico between 2009 and 2014, 70 percent were traced to the U.S.
The report said, “most were purchased legally in gun shops and at gun shows in the United States, and then trafficked illegally to Mexico.”
Meanwhile, Mexicans are arming themselves as never before, according to the think tank Mexico Evalua.
The number of homeowners possessing a weapon surged by 60 percent between 2010 to 2015, topping 232,000 homes, it said in a recent release, citing a survey by the Mexican census bureau.
Mexico Evalua has called on Preciado to drop his gun law proposal, arguing that “you don’t fight violence with more violence.”
“It’s a terrible idea. We already have enough violence in Mexico,” said John M. Ackerman, a law professor at the national university UNAM and editor-in-chief of the Mexican Law Review.
“What needs to be addressed is the corruption in the prosecutorial system in Mexico, and bringing crimes to justice. Only one percent of crime is adjudicated in Mexico and only nine percent is reported, and that is why people respond with desperate measures.”