The Second Amendment, as affirmed by the Heller and McDonald cases, protects the right of American citizens to possess guns regardless of geographic boundaries within the U.S., yet cities like Washington, D.C. and Chicago make gun ownership very difficult. Seeing how these cities have violent crime rates higher than other U.S. cities, you would think they would make it easier for law-abiding citizens to possess guns as a means of self-defense as well as for sporting reasons. Sadly this isn’t the case; in fact, the rights of gun owners in these two major U.S. cities are closer to gun rights of citizens of Mexico than they are to their fellow Americans.
Article 10 of the Mexican Constitution grants citizens the right to “possess arms in the home for security and legitimate defense” and, over the past five years, as violence has become more prevalent throughout the country, Mexican residents have been purchasing guns in large numbers. According to a recent study conducted by Ernesto Villanueva at the National Autonomous University in Mexico’s Institute of Legal Research, the number of Mexicans legally owning guns has increased more than 50 percent, from 2,033,749 in 2009 to 3,118,592 in 2012, which is one of the most violent periods in Mexican history given the ongoing battle with the country’s drug cartels.
Despite the seeming Constitutional guarantee, legally obtaining a firearm is very difficult as Mexico’s gun laws are actually quite strict, much like Chicago and D.C. There is only one military-run store in all of Mexico, the Mexico City-based Directorate of Commercialization of Arms and Munitions, where it is legally possible to obtain a firearm. The store is located on a military base and features Belgian-, German-, Turkish- and U.S.-made handguns and rifles. Those hoping to buy a firearm for personal protection are restricted to buying a pistol or revolver and calibers are limited to between .22 and .38. In July 2012, the most “exotic” firearm available to the average citizen was an $803.05 Smith & Wesson revolver. There are zero gun stores in Chicago and Washington and the types of guns permitted are also restricted based on aspects such as magazine capacity and appearance.
In both Chicago and Mexico, prior to even touching a firearm in a gun store (somewhere in suburban Illinois for Chicagoans), one must be approved for a license, which is not easy to do. The process in both Mexico and in Chicago can be lengthy and requires a significant amount of bureaucratic red tape. Additionally, the Mexican license must be renewed annually and, like D.C., it only allows the gun to be used in the gun owner’s home for personal protection. A separate permit is required to carry the firearm in public and that presents another hurdle for gun owners – from 2008 to 2013, only 318 out of the 1,627 applications for a public carry permit were approved. D.C. does not allow carrying the gun outside your home.
As of right now, American citizens in cities such as Chicago and D.C. are suffering under laws more similar to Mexico than the rest of America – despite the Constitutional guarantees of both countries. We can’t do much about Mexico. Across the USA, NSSF will continue to fight against these senseless restrictions to free the lawful commerce in arms — and with it, the true constitutional rights of city residents as American citizens.