By Moonyeen King
President of the Board for Tepehua
Mexico has great gun laws, in spite of evidence that contradicts the statement. They have only one legal major gun distribution store, located just outside Mexico City. Run by the Army, it sells approximately 38 guns to civilians per day. An estimated 70% of illegal firearms in Mexico are smuggled over the border from the USA, where there are 67,000 registered gun dealers. Like all great laws they are never implemented. The underground sale of arms all over the world finds their way to the streets.
Home owners in Mexico can only have 1 hand gun, no more powerful than a 38 special for protection, and 1 ‘long gun’, no more powerful than a 22, for hunting purposes, which by law should be registered through a gun club. Only the armed forces, law enforcement and private security organizations have assault weapons. The law states you have the right to keep arms (derecho a poseer), but only in your home. The right to bear arms (derecho a portar) stops at your front door, unless you have special permission to walk the streets armed.
This author has written before regarding preventable deaths after a young Tepehua girl was the victim of an accidental home shooting, where the young boy playing with grandfather´s long gun, shot his 16 year old cousin in the head. Fortunately, it was not fatal, but the bullet remains in her head as it would be fatal to remove it. With that comes psychological trauma that stays with her for life. Of course, Grandpa was guilty of neglect, and guns not stored safely away from children, but the lesson was learned after the fact.
Why would anyone want to own an assault weapon if not for evil intent? This author has bought a gun in Texas, where, living on a farm, a long gun was needed for predators and other humane reasons. First the gun was bought, then leaving the store was required to return and buy the ammunition, so the purchases were separate. If one had evil intent, put the two together in the vehicle and return to the store and open fire. The background check was mainly from a driver´s license. Spotting a deranged person is impossible. Everyone is wiser after the fact, but only after the lives of many are changed forever.
Whilst it is astonishing that weapons are in homes in Tepehua where poverty reigns, where the only valuable they own is life itself, protecting that life and those of their family is a right even if controlled by law. To be considered living in ‘absolute poverty’, means not to have access to education, health care, social security services, adequate nutrition, adequate housing and basic services in the home (such as running water/electricity). Unfortunately, Tepehua qualified for all.
15 years ago there were no police patrolling the area; it was a dangerous place and a drug haven. Today there are often patrols and it is comparatively easy to get an emergency call answered. Since the Community Center became established, they have medical and dental service as well as access to education thanks to the program the center has for helping all children get into the school system and on to further education. With education will come change. There are still drugs and guns, and lack of adequate housing, but the Habitat program of Tepehua is hoping to change that, with a little help from the public/organizations in general.
It will take another generation to bring law and order to a lot of barrios who have had to protect themselves. The statement “Men kill, guns don´t” is absurd. Of course, man kills if you give him a weapon...any weapon even his hands. Its part of our psyche out of control.
Hopefully, the laws will be upheld by the majority. We will always have to live with evil intent of the few no matter what side of the wall we are on.
MOONYEEN PATRICIA KING
Column: Profiling Tepehua
Settled in Mexico 13 years ago. The intention was to retire into the arts as a writer, poet and painter...that didn’t happen. Beneath the smiles of the peoples of Mexico there was such a great need for change, especially for the women and children of the barrios, Moonyeen has dedicated these years to change the face of this little corner of the world. The work done by the volunteers of the Tepehua Community Center is teaching that change is possible anywhere. Moonyeen was portrayed as “Woman of the Year,” also two Paul Harris Rotary awards for the work done at Tepehua. “Life in Mexico is very fulfilling. The Mexican people give so much more to us immigrants than we can possible return.