Gun owners feel forced to defy laws in Mexico


by Sybil Hoffman

Posted on November 13, 2012 at 10:36 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 13 at 11:21 PM

COLONIA LEBARON, Mexico -- Mexico has some of the toughest gun-control laws in the world, but drug cartels have well-stocked arsenals. For law-abiding citizens, it's difficult and expensive to apply for a gun permit. It's why many gun owners decide to defy the law.

The seemingly tranquil region at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountains is home to some of Mexico's most avid gun owners.

"Just a local citizen? It's nearly impossible to own a gun -- legally," said resident Brent LeBaron.

In Mexico the military enforces the law limiting the caliber and quantity of guns an individual can own. Carrying a weapon is illegal unless you belong to a gun club .

Mexico's military issues gun club permits for sporting or hunting purposes.

Gun club members are allowed to own up to 10 weapons, but the military runs the one gun store in Mexico. So where do the guns come from? The black market. Gun owners in this region suspect many are smuggled across the border from the United States.
Daniel Madrid, a gun club member, told us, "mainly from Texas."
Angela Kocherga reporting from near Casas Grandes, Mexico, said, "One of the challenges for gun owners in in Mexico is the price of ammunition. This one box of 50 rounds costs as much as 500 rounds in the U.S."

The high price of ammunition is not an issue for heavily armed drug cartels.

"I wish that Mexico would change that and give us the right to bear arms," LeBaron said.

But many others in Mexico balk at the idea of allowing ordinary citizens to arm themselves.

A small-business owner who lived in Arizona for a couple of years said so many people carried guns, "it was like the Wild West."

Alex LeBaron is a Chihuahua state representative who calls the region home. He said while he doesn't own a gun, he does have weapons.

"We've become a standard for self-defense, a standard for unity, a standard for standing up for a certain cause," LeBaron said.
He said views about gun ownership for self-defense are changing, especially among young people. But nobody expects gun laws to change anytime soon.

According to the Mexican military requests for the permits required to start a gun club have grown steadily the past few years.