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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.

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.

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    • I enjoy the food, the bullfights among other venues of entertainment (not drinking, nor the “little girls”). I enjoy wholesome pastimes in Tijuana (bargaining for collectibles, museums, artwork). I’m not interested in the liquor or other substances.

      While the bullfights aren’t for everyone, I enjoy good food, good fun and “family” entertainment.

    • “Mexico’s- and I don’t like to simplistically vilify an entire country- but Mexico’s a horrible place.”

      • I will happily vilify a whole country. Mexico is a huge s–t hole. That is why I do have some sympathy for people that come here from there.

        • Dittos

          Alejandra Villanueva of Denver, Colorado While ole Al might squat in Denverm he may not have been invited in by the citizenry.

  1. “foreigners don’t get civil rights protections” Nor should they in ANY civilized country. If you are not a citizen why should you be granted the same rights as one?

    • Masotti, huh? Doesn’t sound like an “American” name. Why don’t we just lock you up with no access to an attorney and no way to make bail, because you don’t need no stinkin’ civil rights? Civil rights for aliens. Geez, next thing you know they’ll be wanting free speech or something.

      • BS. No one has any “rights” in a country that is not their own.

        For the US, God granted all within our territory and we come into contact with the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If you’re not a legal US citizen and you leave our borders or leave contact with us then, so sorry, you don’t even have those. And the Constitution does NOT apply to you it is for citizens,

        • That’s a shorter way of saying no one has any “rights” at all, just privileges granted by the state.

          I don’t know, maybe you’re right on a metaphysical level. I sure don’t want to live under a government whose founding document starts with that premise, though. It’s tough enough living under one whose founding premise is that men have nautral, inalienable rights that pre-date–and are independent of–the government.

        • I don’t think god ever heard of the United states, he moved on down the road millennia before it came into existence, hasn’t been heard from or photographed since..

    • Disagree completely. Humans either have inalienable rights or they don’t. Just because some awful country hasn’t codified them into law doesn’t mean you forfeit your natural rights.

      Now, having rights and being free to exercise them are 2 separate things. Obviously that freedom doesn’t exist as much south of our border.

  2. My brother in law goes down there a couple times a year. Playa del Carmen and Cancun. He swears it’s safe.

    Personally I found Cabo San Lucas to be nice… 15 years ago. Mexico city is a shithole.

    Either way, every time he talks about it I smile and chuckle to myself. He thinks I’m supportive of his statements about safety and laughing at the rest of the family. In reality I’m remembering a friend of mine and some things about him that are not repeatable in most company. Suffice to say: Tijuana + tequila + pregnant hooker + dumpster behind a bar.

  3. There is probably more violence at nightclubs in the East Bay Area or D.C. than in Mexico because the Mexican bouncers are cops with rifles and interested in keeping tourist money flowing. Proof is that violence at clubs in Mexico makes the news while much of the class b violence in the U.S. Only makes the blotter.
    In the U.S. people go out in Oakland or D.C. without a second thought.
    Nightclubs can be dangerous anywhere and your situational awareness sucks when you are drunk or focused on female eye candy. Pick your nightclub smartly and go in groups.

    • No one with a brain goes to Oakland or D.C. Much less “go out” in these or a 100 other US shitholes. In Mexico?

      Stupid people, stupid places, stupid things.

  4. I have had to make business trips to three Mexican cities. I always insisted on a “baby sitter”, someone with local knowledge and influence to keep me safe. Hermosillo reminded me of a run down part of a southwestern American city. Monterrey was much nicer. Before crossing the border into Matamoros, my baby sitter advised me to ingest nothing but air until I returned to the US and as little of that as possible. That was in the 1990s. I wouldn’t go there now.

    Circa 1980, my father spent several winters in Mexico. He prowled all over the country without trouble. He said the Mexicans were very respectful toward the elderly. The only thing he had to be careful about was petty theft. Although he didn’t have to worry about muggers, anything not locked up was likely to be stolen. From what I understand, that’s pretty common everywhere in Latin America. Even poor Americans and Canadians are rich compared to the locals.

    • When I was a kid in the ’80s, my dad had a job for a semester as a visiting professor in Brownsville, Tex. We rented a townhouse in a place that was, basically, a resort for middle-class winter ‘snowbirds’ from northerly places in Yankeedom and Canada. Across the street was a vacation hotel with a nightclub for tourists. It was generally a nice place. Sometimes we’d walk across the border to Matamoras to go shopping and have dinner at Garcia’s. It was, mostly, fun. But I also remember seeing poverty that was incredible — starving people begging in the streets who barely had the energy to move.

      The last time I was there — maybe 5 years ago — the whole place had changed. The hotel and nightclub were now some sort of UT branch campus. The townhouses were run down and looked like a ghetto; every unit had bars on the windows. When we ventured across the border, I didn’t see starving people in the streets….actually, I didn’t see much of ANYONE in the streets except uniformed federales patrolling with submachine guns.

      At that point, I started wondering: what drove all that change…?

  5. I used to spend four to six weeks a year in Mexico, soaking up the sun, the culture and the occasional margarita. The Playa del Carmen and Cozumel were my favorite places — enjoying a cold margie and a warm fish taco was as close to paradise as one could get.

    I haven’t been back for years and don’t intend to return. Sad. Very sad.

  6. Lived in San Diego for many years. We used to travel across the border almost monthly. Even did some dove hunting in my younger days. Today, I’d never cross that border.
    I have to wonder if any of the U.S. (ATF) provided weapons were involved in this horror? Wow, another gun control FAIL. Who’d a guess?

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