If one were to guess how many gun stores are in Mexico, it can almost be guaranteed that that guess would be wrong, because despite the highly publicized violence and number of guns the cartels are using, there is only one gun store in all of Mexico…and it’s run by the military.
On a military base in Mexico City sits the sole place to legally buy a gun in the entire country of Mexico. To purchase a firearm one must prove they have earned their income honestly, have no criminal record, and if they have served in the military, they must have a spotless record, and have served with honor. If approved, each person may still only purchase one gun, and a box of bullets.
Mexican authorities insist that 90 percent of guns in Mexico have been smuggled in from the United States. President Felipe Calderon has reported that Mexican forces have captured over 93,000 weapons over the last four years, and while the U.S. and Mexican governments have said they have traced 73,000 seized weapons, they both refuse to share the results on the traces.
On the U.S. side of the border there are over 6,600 federally licensed firearms dealers, and according to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, in the last year, at least 14 million guns are believed to have been sold in the U.S., though no one knows the exact number.
In Mexico City, Lt. Col. Raul Manzano Velez, director of the gun store, says he can precisely account for every firearm sold in the shop. The number of guns sold in the military shop each year has averaged at 6,490 since 2006. Though, while gun sales drop, illegal weapon seizures have drastically risen.
Manzano says that while he can say that there is a decrease in gun sales from his store, he knows how easy it is to get a gun elsewhere these days.
“We have a higher rate of crimes where the weapon involved is coming from the black market,” said Manzano, “And that happens because in our country, it is much easier to buy a gun on the black market than” at his store.