Over the past few months, I have received a steady stream of emails from readers asking me about the gun laws in Mexico. Since it’s been raining here lately, I decided to go ahead and knock this one out.
If you are a regular follower of the blog, you may have noticed my propensity to write about legal topics. That goes back to my years working as a law enforcement officer in Florida. In addition to my regular duties, I routinely created legal reference materials for officers to help them better understand the more complex aspects of the law.
Now that we live in Mexico, I have been committed to learning as much about Mexican law as possible. While my wife is reading the latest novel on her Kindle, I am usually perusing the online law library of a Mexican university. That may not sound exciting, but I believe that knowing the law of the land is an important part of assimilating into a new culture.
Let’s Get Started
I have always preferred to answer legal questions using a Q&A format. That makes it a little easier for people to go back and find specific information later.
You will notice that I have put a lot of hyperlinks in today’s post. For the non-technical people, that means if you see a word in blue, you can click on it to go to the source in order to learn more. Just keep in mind that the sites are all in Spanish, so you may have to use Google translator.
Note- The post only addresses private ownership and use of firearms.
Is it legal for civilians to possess firearms in Mexico?
It is a common belief among Americans that Mexico does not allow any private ownership of firearms. Although Mexico’s gun laws are very strict in comparison with those of the United States, the right to bear arms — at least in one’s home — is rooted in Article 10 of the Mexican Constitution.
The federal law that enumerates the rights, conditions, and restrictions related to firearms is called Ley Federal de Armas de Fuego y Explosivos. All of the legal citations from this point forward will be referring to specific sections of this law.
Are foreigners allowed to purchase and/or possess firearms?
This is the million dollar question that current and prospective expats constantly ask me. The answer is yes — provided that you are a lawful permanent resident of the country (Artículo 27). That means that you will need to have a permanent resident visa, formerly known as the FM2.
Of course, you will still have to comply with all of the other requirements — and there are a lot of them. I will touch on those in the next sections.
The government does issue permits that allow tourists to temporarily import and transport a firearm for sport purposes. One of the requirements is that the individual provide the government with a copy of an invitation from a registered shooting or hunting club in Mexico.
Which government agency handles licensing and gun registration?
La Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional, commonly referred to as la Sedena. All firearms must be registered in Mexico.
What are the requirements to buy a firearm?
In order to purchase a firearm or ammunition, you will have to complete a request with Sedena and get their approval. The following are a list of the requirements:
- Certified copy of a birth certificate
- In the case of foreigners, documentation that proves you have legal status (specifically a permanent resident visa)
- A work letter on letterhead that specifies job title, time in grade and salary (if applicable)
- Proof of address (electric bill)
- Photocopy of identification with photo
- If you want to buy a long gun, you will have to include proof of an active membership in a hunting or shooting club. The proof must have the expiration date of the membership.
- Photocopy of your CURP
Where can I buy a firearm?
There is only one gun store in Mexico and it is government owned and operated. The store is located in Mexico City and it is called la Dirección de Comercialización de Armamento y Municiones (DCAM).
You will never see an advertisement for it and it is not well marked. Before going there, you are going to have to complete all of the requirements in the preceding section and be approved.
You can see what they have in stock along with the corresponding prices by going to their web page: DCAM. Scroll down and click on Existencias de Armas.
How many guns am I permitted to own?
Home protection (Artículo 9):
Number of firearms: 1
Permitted calibers and types:
- Pistols up to .380. The following are prohibited: .38 super, .38 commando, 9mm Mausser, 9mm Parabellum, 9mm Commando, and similar models from other brands.
- Revolvers up to .38 caliber, with the exception of .357 magnum.
Note: There are some additional allowances for people living outside of urban areas
Hunting or target shooting (Artículo 10):
* This requires an active membership in a registered hunting or sport shooting club
Number of firearms: 10 (nine long guns and one .22 cal handgun)
Permitted calibers and types:
- .22 caliber pistols, revolvers, and rifles
- .38 caliber for competition shooting
- Shotguns no greater than 12 gauge and with no less than a 25 inch barrel
- Many rifles are permitted; however, the following are specifically prohibited: .30, .223, 7 & 7.62 mm
Note: The list of caliber restrictions is not a complete list. Refer to the federal law for additional restrictions and exceptions.
Collectors (Artículos 21, 22):
Number of Firearms: no limit (requires special license)
Permitted calibers and types:
The law permits a collector or museum to possess firearms otherwise prohibited by law.
Do I need an additional permit to transport the gun?
Yes, the only place you are permitted to have your gun — unless you get an additional permit — is at your primary residence.
You even have to have a special permit to transport it for the purpose of hunting or target practice. The requirements are quite stringent and one of them is that you are an active member of a shooting or hunting club.
What are the requirements to get a permit to carry the firearm?
If you want to be able to transport your firearm with you on a regular basis for self defense purposes, you will need a permit. There are numerous requirements, including:
- Medical exam
- Psychological exam
- Drug test
These permits are quite rare in Mexico. There are over 123 million people in Mexico, but la Sedena has only issued around 3,000 permits for private individuals to carry firearms. This number does include those who carry firearms as part of their employment, such as police and private security officers.
Let’s Wrap This Up
The purpose of today’s post was only to educate people about the gun laws in Mexico. The post was not intended to spark a debate about gun control, hunting, or whether or not you agree or disagree with the law. I want to keep the site as free from politics as possible.
If you have any questions related to registering, buying, importing, exporting, selling, and/or using firearms, you should direct them to La Secretaría de la Defensa Nacional.