I ran across this story recently, and at face value I found it hard to believe, but after some digging it turns out to be true. I’d certainly like some of our Mexican readers to weigh in on it, but within the entire country of Mexico there is one legally operating gunshop, from which qualifying citizens can purchase firearms. Of course I am aware that Mexico has a large illegal firearms problem, but this is about legal firearms. The gunshop is on a military base, in Mexico City, and by Mexico’s constitution, the shop cannot even advertise its existence to the Mexican public. It is completely run by the military, with even military clerks behind the counter. It sells around six thousand firearms a year, mostly handguns in .22 LR to .38 caliber, and sporting rifles and shotguns, of which most are single shot if I read correctly. The display cases also appear to hold a number of modern day battle rifles such as ARs and Galils, but these seem to be just for display and not for sale. The prices are much higher than in the United States for the same firearms. This is probably because of the import taxes and similar regulations. They also have optics and various other accessories for sale.
In the gun shop here, soldiers keep a wary eye on customers as they pass through a metal detector. Once inside, clients seeking protection for their homes are each permitted to buy one small-caliber handgun. They also can obtain 200 rounds of ammunition a year.
“Normally, we have 70 or 100 visitors a day,” army Col. Raul Manzano Velez said as he took a visitor past rows of wooden cabinets displaying Belgian-, German-, Turkish- and U.S.-made handguns and single-shot hunting rifles.
The shop’s existence is unknown to many citizens. “The federal firearms law forbids us from advertising so as not to promote rampant gun buying,” Manzano said.
Obtaining a gun involves first getting a permit. Requirements include an official photo ID, proof of residency and employment, a document showing fulfillment of military service and a declaration of a clean criminal record.
“When you have all these documents, you take them to the federal firearms registry, and within five to 10 working days you get the license,” Manzano said.
For those seeking guns for home protection, the law requires that the firearms never leave the permit holders’ primary residences. The firearm can be from .22 to .380 caliber. It can be a pistol or a revolver, but can’t be a rifle. Only a single gun is allowed.
A different permit is given to marksmen and hunters, allowing them each to own up to nine single-shot rifles or shotguns and one small-caliber handgun. Mexico has 89 gun and hunting clubs and 20 government offices that sell hunting licenses.
Mexico’s 289 private security companies also have a different regimen: They can buy semiautomatic weapons or higher-caliber pistols and revolvers.
No matter how far buyers live from Mexico City, they must travel to the capital to obtain the licenses, give fingerprints and purchase the weapons.