UPDATE ON 1/17: Family members confirmed in a statement to Fox 31 News that an American, 18-year-old Alejandra Villanueva of Denver, Colorado, was one of the festival attendees killed in the attack.
A gunfight broke out last night at the BPM music festival in Mexico leaving five people dead, and fifteen others injured — including two Americans. The attack happened at about 2:30 a.m. local time in the Blue Parrot nightclub, located in Playa del Carmen, approximately 45 miles south of Cancun, in the Yucatan Peninsula.
Rodolfo Del Angel, director of police in the Mexican State of Quintana Roo, said that the shooting was caused by some sort of disagreement between club patrons; BPM security guards were also attacked when they tried to contain the dispute. According to The Guardian, Quintana Roo officials stated that “two Canadians, one Italian and one Colombian person – all BPM employees – were among the dead. They did not confirm reports in local media that attributed the attack to a drug dealing dispute.”
The identities of the Americans injured, or of the individuals killed, have not yet been released. The authorities are also reassuring everyone that this was not related to “terrorism”; they might’ve meant to say “Islamic terrorism,” since it looks like the festival attendees were pretty well terrorized, whatever the motives of the attackers. There is no word on whether anyone has been arrested for the murders yet.
Video of the incident, showing people fleeing the scene and posts telling people to stay away from the scene soon began appearing on social media.
Someone has come into the club in Playa Del Carmen and opened fire. 4-5 dead and many wounded. Stay in ur fuckin hotel if you’re here at BPM
— JACKMASTER (@jackmaster) January 16, 2017
Perhaps surprising to American gun owners, the Mexican Constitution protects the right of Mexicans to possess firearms, but the protections are not as expansive as those afforded to their northern neighbors. Article 10 of Mexico’s 1857 Constitution stated that every man had the right to keep and bear arms for his security and legitimate defense (“Todo hombre tin derecho de poseer y portar armas para su seguridad y legítma defensa.”) The Mexican framers, however, added something that would never have passed muster with James Madison: it allowed the Mexican central government to decide which arms may be prohibited to the general public.
Unfortunately, the 1857 Constitution was the high-water mark for Mexican civil liberties. Mexico’s Article 10 didn’t have advocates at the turn of the 20th century the way the Second Amendment does in America today.
When a new constitution was drafted in 1917, Article 10 came out severely weakened. The Mexican people were now barred from possessing any firearm reserved for the use of the Army, Navy, and National Guard. Article 10 also now said that people carrying firearms in municipalities would be subject to “police regulations”. (Since the Mexican government could already pass a law banning certain types of guns under the old Article 10, I’m not sure what hard-wiring these into the Constitution accomplished, other than making it clear that everyone had to bend to the will of the Army and police jefes on firearms.) Oh, also, the protections now only applied to “inhabitants” of Mexico; foreigners don’t get civil rights protections on Mexican soil.
What this boiled down to was that in Mexican constitutional law, the right to keep arms was separated from the right to bear them. Mexican citizens could own arms (at least, whatever arms the government and Army allowed them to have,) and keep them at home, but they couldn’t necessarily bear them outside their homes, without the permission of the local police.
On the other hand, Wikipedia says that the 1917 Constitution was the very first in the world “to set out social rights,” serving as a model for the Constitution of Weimar Germany and the 1918 Constitution of Soviet Russia. So there’s that. I am sure those constitutions worked out well for all nations concerned.
Current Mexican law appears to allow its residents to own only certain calibers that aren’t in military use, such as .380 ACP for semi-autos — no 9mm Parabellum, let alone .45 ACP. (This restriction is one of the reasons Gaston Glock manufactured the oddball Glock brand GLOCK 25 and 28, which can’t be sold in the USA due to our own bizarre firearms import laws.) Revolvers can be chambered in .38spl and even .357 Magnum. Unlicensed (legal) carry is almost unthinkable: one must justify it to the local constabulary and post a bond. Also: there seems to be only one store in the entire nation where citizens can legally buy a gun.
The upshot of all of this is that between the firearms restrictions and restrictions on possession in public, there’s a fairly good chance that whoever engaged in that gunfight last night was already breaking a couple of different Mexican gun control laws.
DISCLAIMER: The author is not licensed to practice law in the United Mexican States; if you need legal advice related to that country, you should hire and consult someone who is. Also: the author’s grandmother fled Mexico on the back of an oxcart around the time that the 1917 Constitution was ratified; this may have impacted his attitude toward that nation and its constitution a little.