Mexican Gun Control Ensures Cartels Outgun The Good Guys

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

2017 may have been the worst year for homicide in Mexico since the government began keeping track in the 1990s. 

It's a safe bet that the homicide rate isn't coming anywhere near what it was in the years surrounding the revolution 100 years ago. But it may be the worst rate in several decades. 

German news site DW reports: 

The Interior Ministry said authorities across Mexico opened 29,168 murder cases, saying that it put the country's homicide rate at 20.5 per 100,000 inhabitants.

The highest figure ever recorded in Mexico before last year was in 2011, during the peak of the Mexican government's war on drugs. That year, authorities recorded 22,409 homicides.

Unfortunately, some observers think the Mexican state is fudging the numbers:

However, experts have cast doubt on the latest figures, saying the homicide rate is likely much higher.

Mexican security analysts Alejandro Hope told AP news agency that the figure is based on the number of murder investigations opened last year, not the number of victims.

Hope added that it also doesn't take into account that a killing may result in more than one victim. He placed the homicide rate closer to 24 per 100,000 inhabitants.

According to the official stats in recent years, the homicide rate in Mexico hit 22.6 per 100,000 in 2011, and then declined after that. If critics are right, and the current rate is near 24 per 100,000, that would be a new peak.



By comparison, the homicide rate in the United States was 5.3 per 100,000 in 2016 (the most recent data available) ranging from 1.3 per 100,000 in New Hampshire to 11 per 100,000 in Louisiana. 

Homicide rates vary far more wildly in Mexico, with rates ranging from around 1 per 100,000 in Yucatan state to over 100 per 100,000 in Colima state.

Why Are Rates So High?

Violent crime may be Mexico's largest problem for its economy, growth, and its standard of living. In recent decades, Mexico has moved beyond single-party political rule. It now has competitive elections in more than name only. It has several metropolitan areas which are — outside of the crime issue — considered good places to do business.  It is increasingly connected to the global economy. The UN ranks it "high" on its Human Development Index. Along with other rapidly modernizing Latin American Countries like Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Panama, it would be very wrong to call Mexico a "third world" country. 

So why the persistent violent crime? 

This is one of those issues that has no simple answer. Part of the problem is due to a lack of local control. Some is due to the Drug War — as is the case in the US and other countries. Part is due to demographics

This doesn't stop some commentators, though, from attempting to assign easy explanations to the problem. 

One such recent trend in polemics is found among gun-control advocates who attempt to blame Mexico's crime woes on the availability of small arms in the United States. 

Unlike the United States, though, Mexico has relatively strict gun laws. As Vox notes: 

Mexico is one of the few countries that, like the US, guarantees the right to bear arms in its constitution. Still, Mexico maintains some fairly strict gun laws: All guns must be registered through the federal government, carrying a gun requires a license, sales are legally limited to one store in Mexico City, and carrying licenses can be taken away at the federal government's discretion.

So, like much of Latin America, Mexico is a country with strict gun laws, but high homicide rates. 

So how to explain the problem? 

Well, in the case of Mexico, the answer for gun control activists is to blame the United States: "one way for Mexicans to get around their country's strict gun laws is to simply walk across the border." 

The logic proceeds accordingly: The presence of more guns means more homicide. And, although Mexico has strict gun laws, Mexico is unfortunately located close to the United States where guns can be easily purchased. Guns are then introduced into Mexico where they drive a higher homicide rate. 

There are some problems with this logic. Even if we account for all the black-market guns in Mexico, gun totals are still much higher in the US. That is, according to the 2007 Small Arms Survey, it is estimated that there are around 15 million privately-held guns in Mexico, on the high end. Even accounting for an additional increase since 2007, we're looking at a rate of fewer than 20 guns per 100 people in Mexico. In the United States, on the other hand, that total is around 100 guns per 100 people. 

So, if one is going to pin Mexico's violence problem on "more guns," they have to account for why there are more than five times as many guns in the US, with only a small fraction of the homicides. 

Moreover, the statistics allegedly showing that as much as 70 percent or even 90 percent of guns seized in Mexico come from the US is not true. That statistic is based only on seized guns that are also traced by the ATF. How many of all guns seized in Mexico come from the US? According to Stratfor, "almost 90 percent of the guns seized in Mexico in 2008 were not traced back to the United States." Nor does the Mexican government ask the ATF to trace all guns seized in Mexico. This is because many of those arms can be traced back to the Mexican government itself. 

After all, it's not as if Latin America has no locally produced firearms. The Small Arms Survey notes: 

Latin America has a long tradition of gun production, with some manufacturers tracing their history back many decades. Brazil has the largest arms industry in the region, followed by Argentina. Firearms are also produced by private or government-owned industries in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela. While most of the production is intended to equip the military and law enforcement institutions, some of the production is for private use. Research shows that, "[w]ith the important exceptions of major exporters led by Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and above all Brazil, [Latin America’s] small arms producers tend to be niche manufacturers, serving captive local markets."

So Mexico contains local arms-producing manufacturers to the point that some are "major exporters" who also produce arms for government institutions. And government stockpiles are a source for black markets as well. 

Even worse, the same government institutions that work to keep firearms out of the hands of peaceful private citizens, are often in league with the cartels. As a recent New York Times article noted about local resistance to cartel-sown chaos, "Townspeople formed militias to eject both the cartel, which effectively controlled much of Michoacán, and the local police, who were seen as complicit."

In other words, there is often no clear line between law enforcement and the cartels themselves. 

Often, official law enforcement simply can't be bothered. Things are even worse when, as  one cartel member put it, "soldiers and cops are ... really on our side."

Thus, it shouldn't exactly be a surprise that many of the guns seized in Mexico are coming from official government sources.

It requires quite a bit of creativity to then take these facts and twist them into a narrative which concludes "too many guns in Texas leads to more Mexican homicide." If Texan guns are fueling homicide in neighboring jurisdictions, why aren't US states close to Texas experiencing similar problems? 

New Mexico, after all, is next to Texas. But New Mexico's homicide rate of 6.7 per 100,000 is a mere fraction of its neighbor to the south — Chihuahua state — where the homicide rate is over 40 per 100,000

Moreover, increases in gun totals over time in the United States have not shown increases in homicides. In fact, the opposite is true. According to statistics from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, new guns manufactured in the United States, since 2011, have been more than double what they were throughout most of the past thirty years. Total gun production rapidly increased from 2001 to 2013, yet, homicide rates were cut in half from the 1990s to today. Although homicide rates have trended up in the past two years, they remain near 50-year lows. 



Has Gun Control Helped Mexico?

It's difficult to see how greater gun restrictions have helped Mexico. In practice, the restrictions discourage ownership by peaceful people while ensuring that cartels and official state agencies are the only armed groups. And both groups are often in league with each other. Ordinary people are then caught defenseless in the crossfire. 

Attempts at blaming Mexican violence on American guns ignores the fact that there are several times more guns in the US, but without the Mexico-like homicide rates. 

Indeed, some American border towns have low homicide rates, even by American standards. The homicide rate in El Paso, Texas, for example, was a very low 2.7 per 100,000 in 2016. Just across the Rio Grande, the city of Juarez is one of the murder capitals of the world. Moreover, 80 percent of El Paso residents are of Hispanic — primarily Mexican — origin, meaning we can't even resort to a bigoted explanation about how Mexican ethnicity leads to more violence. 

So, why should it be outlandish to conclude that Mexican gun control might be an important factor? After all, on the southern side of the border, guns are reserved for cartels and often-corrupt police officials. Has this situation increased the quality of life of average Mexicans? It's hard to see how. 


Manipuflation Fri, 02/23/2018 - 20:23 Permalink

I am one week from going full salaried management.  I think I might need an AR just to have.  Probably an AR-10 variant.  I don't "need" one perse but if if it pisses off the snowflakes then I need one.

JimmyJones lloll Sat, 02/24/2018 - 10:50 Permalink

Years ago there was a revolution that took place in southern Mexico that did not succeed but it wasn't crushed either the people down there to this day keep their firearms illegally however if you look at the crime rate in that area it is much lower than the rest of Mexico basically the people said screw the cartels and screw the government

In reply to by lloll

Rutalkingtome Manipuflation Sat, 02/24/2018 - 03:45 Permalink

I agree with most of this article. I should stress official Corruption at the core of the problem. The alliance of the official authorities with the criminals. This is demonstrated by for instance when authorities inclusive soldiers go and hunt the self defense units from villages and towns on behalf of the criminals. The US is as usual not so innocent providing weapons -and training?- to some of the cartels So poor Mexicans (the innocent civilians) are between a rock and a hard place. The comes this huge problem of kidnapning. That is also a  very lucrative activity both for corrupt polices and criminals well, there is no distinction here between these two since as the article points often teamwork with each other. My question is why human rights organizations so seldom point to Mexicos enormous criminality? The killings of journalits by both officials and criminals? Kidnappnings? etc.

In reply to by Manipuflation

itstippy Rutalkingtome Sat, 02/24/2018 - 09:49 Permalink

If I'm a working man in Mexico, to whom do I pay "taxes" so I can live in peace?  The local government, the local police, the local warlord, or all three?  Even that won't save me from the freelance banditos.

In 1920s-30s Chicago a storekeeper paid "taxes" to the local government and to the local Warlord (Capone Outfit or North Side Gang, depending on where in Chicago you were).  That kept the city tax vultures, the police, and rival warlords off his ass.  Working men didn't have to pay anyone and were relatively safe.  The jackles not only left workingclass people alone, they actually protected them from local hoods.  Old men could play checkers in the city parks, kids could play in the streets, the "authorities" (such as they were) saw to it that small-time punks didn't cause problems.

Mexico sounds horrific; no safety anywhere for anyone.  Ditto for inner city areas of the U.S., including Chicago.

In reply to by Rutalkingtome

Rutalkingtome itstippy Sat, 02/24/2018 - 15:08 Permalink

"Mexico sounds horrific; no safety anywhere for anyone.  Ditto for inner city areas of the U.S., including Chicago." Thats true but then my question why Human rights organizations, Amnesty, etc do not raise their voices for this gigantic problem? Why the US secret organizations, Mossad etc promote such violence so close the US, See do they achieve by that? To put fear on all Americans about visiting Mexico? To put fear on all those poor inmigrants from Cental America that want to reach the US so the do not dare to travel there any longer? Since these criminal organizations (not seldom with help from mexican police) very often blackmail, kidnapp, rape and kill these poor people.

In reply to by itstippy

Rex Andrus booboo Fri, 02/23/2018 - 23:45 Permalink

Mexico has 2 gun codes, possession and carry. Just like they have 2 classes, the haves and the have nots. They map perfectly.

Populate your 2x2 thus:

You crypto rico (1%), you walk. You crypto pobre or rico mestizo (12%), you walk if you have an uncle. You mestizo pobre, you're on your own.

Map: You butcher people at will (.1%). You're a loser (17%). You are just trying to take care of your own (40 killer dreamers/60 retards).

Or if you like,

Swamp, lawyers, decent humans (40% chumped)

Not at all like 1976 USA. Not at all different than 2016 USA.

In reply to by booboo

Debt Slave Fri, 02/23/2018 - 20:54 Permalink

“meaning we can't even resort to a bigoted explanation about how Mexican ethnicity leads to more violence.”

Really now? Seems mighty presumptuous. Short sighted if not the least.

Cut off welfare and “social services” in El Paso for a few years and let’s see what happens. Let’s compare notes.

EcuadorExpat Fri, 02/23/2018 - 20:57 Permalink

The gun debate ends with one sentence. If you do not believe that Americans should own guns, then post a sign prominently in your front yard or on the front door of your domicile saying, “there are no firearms in this household !” or else shut the f*** up.

If if you have a gun control neighbor, post a sign on your lawn saying, "there are no guns in the house next door with an arrow pointing to your neighbor's property. 

Malleus Maleficarum Fri, 02/23/2018 - 21:04 Permalink

More pointedly, the Drug War ensures cartels outgun the "good guys." Hell, they ensure the existence of the cartels themselves! With the poverty and corruption in Mexico, it's often difficult to differentiate between the "good" and "bad" guys. Regardless, even if Mexicans could own whatever weapons they desire (I wholeheartedly approve), they typically don't enjoy unlimited funds. Unless of course they work for the cartels! Indeed, the cartels can afford to procure arsenals that would put to shame those of many national armies! The very last thing the cartels want is an end to Prohibition, and from the looks of things, they needn't worry. Fighting the Drug Wars in the streets with armies of thugs makes much more sense than fighting in courtrooms with armies of lawyers...

Elguapo Fri, 02/23/2018 - 21:24 Permalink

I'm Mexican American and I totally agree with trump. The corrupt government and the narcos are the same and they need an unarmed population to keep this going. Americans, don't let the reality of México  become the future of the U.S. These evil democrat are really Mexican-ish style politicians and once the got your guns it is the law of "plata o plomo" for u piones. Fight them at every in all plat forms. 

rosiescenario Elguapo Fri, 02/23/2018 - 21:31 Permalink

I had not seen your post as I was writing mine. It is truly sad that Mexico has permitted the politicos to take away a fundamental right. Guns permitted the Mexican revolution to happen. After the revolution, Mexican citizens had the right to bear arms. Mexico invented silhouette shooting, but now no one can do it, unless they are in the cartel or police (or both, often times).

In reply to by Elguapo

rosiescenario Fri, 02/23/2018 - 21:27 Permalink

The Mexican revolution happened because the citizens had guns. Their original constitution had a section like our own second amendment. Gradually the citizen's right to have guns was taken away from them by the politicians. You can go to Wikipedia and verify the history. Now only the police and the cartels (often interchangeable) have guns.

The Dems and a few Reublicat running dogs want to do the same to the law abiding, gun owning U.S. citizen. These folks wish to eliminate any form of self reliance, such as being able to protect oneself from criminals. These same politicos, of course, are surrounded by gun wielding protection paid for by the very people they wish to deny firearms to.

Personally I do not own an AR nor would I ever buy one. (I do enjoy pistol and rifle shooting and just came back from the range).While I am not interested in AR type weapons, I will strongly defend everyone's right to own one or more should they so choose. As can be seen from what transpired over decades in Mexico, the anti gun element is relentless. They cannot be appeased so it is best for anyone who values the right to bear arms to always take a strong stand against them on every single action they attempt. Compromise with these folks will eventually make gun ownership in the U.S. like it is today in Mexico.

numapepi Fri, 02/23/2018 - 22:18 Permalink

We have to outlaw guns! Because what mother wants to see her son come home in a body bag... just because he was doing a home invasion to rape and murder some woman!

Manipuflation Fri, 02/23/2018 - 23:35 Permalink

Best off the shelf AR-10s?  What would be your pick?  I already have a porno M1A.  I want a good barrel(chrome-lined) and a solid upper and lower.  Pretend that $2K is the budget.   

CARONTE-RAPTOR Fri, 02/23/2018 - 23:49 Permalink

It is not necessary to be a genius to intuit that the increase of the production of weapons in different states of the union, does not catapult the idices of violence, because these weapons go directly to the criminals and black markets in Mexico.
The ironic thing is that Mexico is urged to seal the border and make expenditures that can barely face. This is not the case with the production of weapons, which in the case of the U.S. They can not or do not want to control. Either of the two options is worrisome.

BendGuyhere Fri, 02/23/2018 - 23:58 Permalink

Mexicans can thank Vicente Fox for the RAGING SHITHOLE their country has become. Mexico's first NARCO-PRESIDENT sold out to the Zetas: what a patriot!

Mexicans are savages. They live it, it is their way...

Charvo Sat, 02/24/2018 - 00:07 Permalink

Guns aren't the reason for homicides.  Homicides would happen in Mexico even if there weren't any guns and just plastic forks.  The people are the ones who have homicidal tendencies.  This is why I would feel safe in a rural white community in the USA where every house has a gun while I would be scared to death of walking in a ghetto black community.  I live in Vietnam, and people here don't have guns, and there is a level of decency that gives me peace of mind when I walk outside.  I don't ever fear for my life here.  It doesn't mean there aren't just really bad folks who will try to slice me up for my phone.  It would never get to the level of Africa, Latin America, or inner cities in the USA like Baltimore or Detroit even if Vietnamese people all had guns.

Cockoo Sat, 02/24/2018 - 00:20 Permalink

Mexico's homicide rate for 2017 through the roof and the US murder rate is high as well so the only way to take down criminal is with a good guy with gun.  Mexican government has not learned its lesson so far maybe in the next few years they allow their citizen to be armed.

rphb Sat, 02/24/2018 - 03:20 Permalink

It is so nice with cherry picking, of course there are lots of violence in Mexico, and it have gun control.

Take Scandinavia, or Hong Kong and Singapore as a counter example, there is almost no violent crime, and they have gun control.

The truth is that gun control isn't a factor at all, what matters is the people.

A population of good, high intelligence and trusting people are prosperous and peaceful, regardless of the number of guns.

And a population of less intelligent, not so trusting people lives in poverty and violence.

Gun control is missing the point.

Guns can't protect good people from bad people, as they can just get bigger guns and are always more willing to use them.

The real factor is demographic.

Lasting prosperity requires a homogeneous high IQ population. Such a population don't need guns.

And that is the real lessen I have here,it is the factor that creates the violence that have to be removed, not the instrument used by it and to defend from it.

Rutalkingtome rphb Sat, 02/24/2018 - 07:52 Permalink

"Take Scandinavia, or Hong Kong and Singapore as a counter example, there is almost no violent crime, and they have gun control" You need to update at least concering Scandinavia, Sweden is for instance acknowledged as one of the countries with highest rape statistics. Killings as well as terrorist actions happen as well.

In reply to by rphb

rphb Rutalkingtome Sat, 02/24/2018 - 10:56 Permalink

Well first of all, if thou dived into the date thou would realise two things.

1) Sweden have a ridiculous standard for what they consider "rape"

Ex: Girl goes to bar, girl gets drunk, girl meets man, girl goes with man home. Next day she have morning regrets, and as she was drunk when she made her decision to have sex, he is considered to have raped her.


2) Sweden have the European record for mass importation of these "bad people" I talked about, at least per capita, Germany have the record in absolute numbers.


A second aspect of this whole debate that Americans seem to have forgotten, is that defence is not something that logically can be left to the individual. Defence is by its very nature a collective endeavour.

If ye don't trust the state, and I have heard a lot of Americans say that, then logically ye have to leave, because the state is what guarantees all of your safety (that is why it is the duty of every able bodied man to defend it [conscription justification]).

The state have a monopoly on violence. The state is the only one that can legitimately use force. If none affiliated individuals tried to use force, even in the defence of the law, they would be participating in vigilantism, itself a serious crime.


So do people have a natural right to be armed?


A gun is a tool, to own one, implies a right to use one.

Guns can be used legitimately for hunting, and the state should regulate the ownership of hunting riffles, to ensure that only reliable people have them.

In reply to by Rutalkingtome