Mexico’s murder rate is six times the US rate, but only about 1% of Mexicans are legally licensed to own a gun

Sep 2, 2019 | Featured

In 2018, Mexico had 35,964 murders — a rate of 29 per 100,000 people. Preliminary estimates for 2018 show a US murder rate of 4.9 per 100,000. And in the first seven months of 2019, Mexico is on track to set a new record of 20,058 murders, but this preliminary number is likely a 20% underestimate.

Since 1972, Mexico has had just one gun store in the entire country. This military-run store is the only place where Mexicans can legally purchase a gun, and only 1% of Mexicans possess a license to own a firearm. The store’s prices are very expensive, and the most powerful rifle that you can buy there is only a 22 caliber. The 1% figure was told to Dr. John Lott by Mexican officials when he testified before the Mexican Senate in 2016.

But you can get another idea of how rare gun ownership in Mexico is by looking at some other numbers. Only 52,147 firearms were sold in Mexico between 2009 and 2014. With 129 million Mexicans, that means if each person who bought a gun obtained only one gun, over those five years only 0.04 percent of the population would have bought a gun. Again, assuming that each person who bought a gun only bought one gun, it would take 25 years before 1 percent of Mexicans had been able to buy a gun. If on average people who bought guns purchased two guns, it would obviously take 50 years before 1 percent of Mexicans had been able to buy a gun.

To buy a gun in Mexico requires six forms of documentation, fingerprints, and an evaluation of the buyer’s employment history. Private transfers of guns are essentially banned.

From the New York Times:

Mexico Get a letter from the local authorities confirming that you do not have a criminal record. Submit a letter showing your employment status and pay. Pass a background check that considers criminal history, employment and current gun ownership. Travel to Mexico City, where the only store authorized to sell guns is located. Get fingerprinted.6Buy a gun.

But Mexico’s murder rate is more than twice what it was in 1972.

In April, Mexico’s president claimed that the situation was not getting worse.

“Our data shows that we’ve brought the situation under control,” the president said.

“The data I have shows something else, you’re not controlling, to the contrary, many Mexicans continue to die,” Mr Ramos challenged the president.

“They have not risen,” President López Obrador said before adding: “I’m not saying we’ve solved the problem.”

The 20,058 number is obtained by adding the 17,065 during the first six months to the 2,993 murders in July.


The Mexican government has changed how they have been measuring murders.

an older methodology that refers to the number of homicide investigations showed an increase to 29,401 last year from 29,100 in 2018.

The new measure indicates that there were 34,582 homicide victims in 2019. That is 2.5% higher than in 2018.



  1. kevin johnson

    If the US homicide rate is 4.9 per 100,000 and Mexico’s is 29, then Mexico has a murder rate nearly 6 times the US not twice the US rate.

  2. BostonTea

    According to the numbers in your article, Mexico’s rate is 6 times the US.

  3. RobM

    By my rough calculation, non-Hispanic whites in the US have a homicide rate of 1.97 while Blacks have a rate of 9.2 and Hispanics have a rate of 5.73.

    That is, white Americans have a murder rate comparable to Canada and Europe. Blacks have a murder rate equal to Iraq, Afghanistan, Togo, Panama, and Paraguay.

    Your famous paper on the concentration of murder in the US doesnt go far enough. Murder is highly correlated with the percent of the population that is Black or Hispanic at the county level, and even moreso by census tract.

    People are literally trying to take away the guns of a group of people who commit almost no murders with any type of weapon.

  4. Johan Pire

    If the Democrats call the US the only civilized country with a gun problem, they are actually saying that civilization stops at their border with Mexico. Even though Mexico has good education and medical care. Apparently nobody understands that the democrats and former POTUS Obama call Mexico a backward country. Perhaps you should explain to the Mexicans what the Democrats actually mean by “The US is the only civilized country with a gun problem”.

  5. XULU

    In México IT IS possible to own MORE than just one gun, in manner of fact, it is legal to own as much guns as your money can buy. Any way, the only legal source of guns in this country is the Mexican Government (!!!!!) and they sell only 10 guns to a single person (1 handgun plus 9 rifles or shotguns), but private transactions are not banned. It is possible to own rifles for hunting and target shooting in any sporting caliber until .460 Weatherby Magnum, .50 BMG is not legal.
    For civilians it is only legal to own handguns in calibers no bigger than .38 special or .380 ACP. but only for home defense. It is very hard to get a permission to carry guns for a particular person.
    Any full auto is banned.
    All guns must be under registration.
    I beg your pardon because of my poor and little english.


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