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Mexico: Amendment to Firearms Law

(July 1, 2015) In May 2015, the Mexican legislature enacted an amendment to its firearms law in order to let certain foreign government agents possess firearms while on duty in Mexico; heretofore they had not been allowed to do so under this statute. (Ley Federal de Armas de Fuego y Explosivos [Federal Law on Firearms and Explosives] (as last amended May 22, 2015), art. 28, DIARIO OFICIAL DE LA FEDERACIÓN (Jan. 11, 1972), Mexico’s House of Representatives website.)

The law as amended provides that the Mexican government may, on the basis of the principle of reciprocity, grant permits for possession of firearms to foreign government agents duly accredited as such before the Mexican government who participate in immigration operations in international transit points or who are stationed in Mexico’s customs offices in order to process the transit of merchandise therein, provided that applicable requirements pursuant to bilateral agreements negotiated to that effect are met. The firearms for these agents are limited to semiautomatic revolvers or pistols whose caliber does not exceed .40 or the equivalent. (Id.)

The bill that proposed this amendment indicated that foreign government agents who serve on the border in bi-national operations alongside Mexican agents need to possess firearms while on duty due to security concerns arising from risks and crimes in the areas where these agents work, such as unlawful trafficking of persons, illegal substances, and merchandise. (Iniciativa que reforma y adiciona diversas disposiciones de la Ley Federal de Armas de Fuego y Explosivos [Bill Proposing to Amend Mexico’s Federal Law on Firearms and Explosives] (Feb. 24, 2015), SISTEMA DE INFORMACIÓN LEGISLATIVA (last visited June 25, 2015).)

In addition, the law as amended now provides that the Mexican government may, on the basis of the principle of reciprocity, grant permits for possession of firearms to foreign government agents who provide security services to those foreign governments’ heads of state, heads of governments, secretaries, or similar high-ranking government officials during their official visits to Mexico. (Federal Law on Firearms and Explosives, art. 28 bis.) These firearms, too, are limited to semiautomatic revolvers or pistols up to .40 caliber or the equivalent. (Id.) As an exception, however, other types of firearms may be allowed provided that, in the view of the Mexican government, the use of such weapons is justified. (Id.)