June 26, 2009
It Could Be Worse for Gun Owners
By Dave Hurteau
In 2006 12.5 million people who were at least 16 years old said they enjoyed hunting in America. They hunted a combined 220 million days that year and took 185 million trips, spending a whopping $22.9 billion.
For our amigos down south, it’s a completely different story. It’s tough to get a gun, let alone hunt. Only 7,000 to 8,000 weapons are sold legally in Mexico each year and that includes sales to private security firms.
According to the federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, there are roughly 54,000 licensed gun dealers in the U.S. In Mexico there is only one.
Mexico's lone gun shop is on a sprawling military compound in the capital that serves as the headquarters of the Mexican army. It's sort of as if the only place in the United States to buy a gun was in a back office at the Pentagon.
Soldiers stand guard at the metal detectors at the shop's entrance. Inside, handguns and rifles are displayed behind glass in long wooden cabinets.
Mexican Army Lt. Col. Raul Manzano Velez runs the shop. He explains that ordinary citizens can buy only one handgun. It must stay inside the home where it's registered and it can't be larger than a .38 special.
To buy a gun in Mexico you first have to fill out some forms. Then your employer has to fill out some forms. And all these forms have to get sent to the army, which decides whether you are eligible to have a gun.
Manzano says if there are no problems, an application can be processed in about a week. But to pick up the firearm, the buyer has to come to this shop in the capital.