The Media Owes a Responsibility to Juárez citizens

Note: The following was submitted to the El Paso Times on October 31, 2010 as a response to an opinion article, they chose to not print it.

As we all know Cd. Juárez is currently embroiled in a life and death struggle for its very survival. It is because of this that special care should be taken by the mass media to at least offer accurate and concise information even in opinion pieces. Case in point is Joe Muench’ opinion piece titled “A ‘right to bear arms’ amendment for Mexico?” in the October 31st edition. Muench writes; “Why doesn’t Mexico enact legislation that gives it’s citizens the right to bear arms?”. This is where I take umbrage with the media, the lack of fact based information. The fact is that Mexico does have a right to bear arms for its citizens under the Constitution and federal law governing the states.

The Ley Federal De Armas De Fuego y Explosivos (Federal Law on Arms & Explosives) published in the Federal Registry and thus made into law on January 11, 1972 (updated May 6, 1972) and current through 1992, the most current version I have available, states under Chapter II, Article 9 that citizens may bear arms in their principal place of residence for “security and legitimate defense”. Article 10 goes on to add that “civil and military authorities must respect the inviolability of the home” under article 16 of the Constitution. Under the law, a citizen must declare the weapon to the Ministry of Defense within thirty-days of acquiring the weapon. Chapter III explains what citizens must do to carry weapons outside of their home for self defense on their persons. Among these is an explanation of why the person must be able to defend themselves. The law also addresses licenses for sporting and hunting events requiring the use of weapons for both citizens and visitors to the country. Weapons for civilian defense are limited to a calibre of .380, 9mm or less to exclude the .38 Super and 9mm Lugars & Parabellums among others.

The fact that we may agree that the Mexican state, in my opinion, has not properly allowed the citizens the right to arm themselves as per the Constitution or that the federal government has conveniently made it difficult or impossible to avail ourselves of the right under the Constitution does not negate the fact that the right exists under the law. I believe that a news outlet should, at the very least, provide accurate information from where we can all debate the merits of all positions. The article’s title and Muench’s inaccurate statement only perpetuates the myths about what is really happening in Mexico. If this community really cares about Mexico and its people then it should demand that it’s media play a central role by demanding accurate information so that we can all debate the cartel wars based on fact and not perpetuated myths.

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