Firearms regulation in Mexico

Gun politics and laws in Mexico covers the role firearms play as part of society within the limits of the United Mexican States.[1] Current legislation sets the legality by which members of the armed forces, law enforcement and private citizens may acquire, own, possess and carry firearms; covering rights and limitations to individuals—including hunting and shooting sport participants, property and personal protection personnel such as bodyguards, security officers, private security, and extending to VIPs (diplomats, public officials, celebrities).[2]

Mexico has extremely restrictive laws regarding gun possession. There is only one gun store in the entire country, and it takes months of paperwork to have a chance at purchasing one legally.[3] That said, there is a common misconception that firearms are illegal in Mexico and that no person may possess them.[4] This belief originates from the general perception that only members of law enforcement, the armed forces, or those in armed security protection are authorized to have them. While it is true that Mexico possesses strict gun laws,[5] where most types and calibers are reserved to military and law enforcement, the acquisition and ownership of certain firearms and ammunition remains a constitutional right to all Mexican citizens and foreign legal residents;[6] given the requirements and conditions to exercise such right are fulfilled in accordance to the law.[7]

The right to keep and bear arms was first recognized as a constitutional right under Article 10 of the Mexican Constitution of 1857.[8] However, as part of the Mexican Constitution of 1917, Article 10 was changed[9] where-by the right to keep and bear arms was given two separate definitions: the right to keep (derecho a poseer in Spanish) and the right to bear (derecho a portar in Spanish).[10] The new version of Article 10 specified that citizens were entitled to keep arms (own them) but may only bear them (carry them) among the population in accordance to police regulation.[11] This modification to Article 10 also introduced the so-called ...[arms] for exclusive use of the [military]... (in Spanish: ...de uso exclusivo del Ejército...), dictating that the law would stipulate which weapons were reserved for the armed forces, including law enforcement agencies, for being considered weapons of war.

In 1971, Article 10 of the present Constitution was changed[12] to limit the right to keep arms within the home only (in Spanish: ...derecho a poseer armas en su domicilio...) and reserved the right to bear arms outside the home only to those explicitly authorized by law (i.e. police, military, armed security officers). The following year, the Federal Law of Firearms and Explosives came into force[13] and gave the federal government complete jurisdiction and control to the legal proliferation of firearms in the country; at the same time, heavily limiting and restricting the legal access to firearms by civilians.

As a result of the changes to Article 10 of the Mexican Constitution and the enactment of the Federal Law of Firearms and Explosives, openly carrying a firearm or carrying a concealed weapon in public is virtually forbidden to private citizens, unless explicitly authorized by the Secretariat of National Defense (SEDENA). For purposes of personal protection, firearms are only permitted within the place of residence and of the type and caliber permitted by law.