Excellent Law Review on Mexican Gun Laws

Dave Kopel linked to a new law review article on Mexican Gun Laws, and also on the current controversy in regards to trafficking from the US into Mexico. You can find a PDF copy here. Let me quote from it:

In the middle of the twentieth century, Mexico was a popular hunting destination for Americans, and Mexican hunters invented a new shooting sport. ―Silhouette shooting—shooting at metal silhouette targets in the shape of game animals—originated in Mexico in the early 1950s. Mexican hunters were looking for ways to sharpen their eyes between hunting seasons, and so began shooting at live animals which had been placed on a high ridgeline, visible in silhouette from hundreds of yards away. Whoever shot the animal would win a prize. American hunters near the Mexican border—most notably the Tucson Rifle Club—adopted the sport, but used life-sized metal targets instead—hence the sport’s name of Siluetas Metalicas.

In Mexico as in the United States, civil unrest in 1968 led to important new restrictions on firearms. Before then, many types of rifles, shotguns and handguns were freely available. Anti-government student movements, however, scared the government into closing firearms stores, and registering all weapons. Compliance with the registration has been very low.

I had to include that one because I shoot that sports pretty regularly, and it’s a good bit of fun. I’m glad Dave included that bit of history. It’s also interesting that Mexico got restrictive at the same time we did. There’s also more meat:

An oft-repeated claim is that 90% of Mexican crime guns come from the United States. The more accurate statement would be that the Mexican police choose to give a selected minority of seized firearms to the United States BATFE offices in Mexico, and of those guns that are turned over the BATFE, a high percentage are traced to the United States, in the sense that the guns were at one point manufactured or sold in the United States.22 This does not mean that the guns were necessarily sold in the civilian United States market; for example, a gun might have been lawfully sold to a Mexican police agency and then stolen. Or the gun might have been manufactured for U.S. Army use during the Vietnam War, later captured by the communist government which currently rules Vietnam, and then exported on the international black market.

I read it last night and it’s worth your while if you want a deep understanding of the issues we’ve been having in regards to Mexico. One thing that strikes me immediately is how imprecise Mexican law is compared to American law. Very little seems to be defined under Mexican law, which I would have difficulty believing doesn’t lead to abuse, as agencies and police interpret the law from situation to situation so that it always goes against the accused. I have no idea whether Mexico has any equivalent to Administrative Law, like we have in the United States.