A civil society group led by Jorge Francisco Islas Negrete is calling on the National Governors Conference (Conago) to hold the first “International Disarmament Forum” in Mexico. Through the initiative, Islas Negrete hopes to create a counterargument to Senator Jorge Preciado’s proposal to reform Article 10 of the Mexican Constitution to relax gun control measures in an attempt to combat insecurity. Among other things, Preciado’s proposal would allow drivers to carry guns in their cars.
“We are against reforming Article 10 of the Constitution, because that is not the way to create peace, harmony and security for Mexicans,” said Islas Negrete in an interview with CAPITAL MEDIA. “It’s fighting violence with more violence.”
When Preciado, a member of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), announced his proposal on Oct. 6, he was initially met with opposition from all sides, including from his own party. However, the senator has defended his initiative and promised to begin the process of collecting signatures to force a referendum on the issue.
Islas Negrete demanded that Preciado immediately withdraw his proposal, and used the United States as an example to show that relaxing gun control is not a solution for insecurity.
“If the bill passes, there’s the risk that bad people are going to be able to legally buy arms, and basically have licenses to kill,” he said. “There are a lot of bad people here, and it’s not a good idea for there to be more access to guns.”
On the contrary, Islas Negrete suggests that governments, citizens and civil society groups begin a “National Crusade for Disarmament,” which would include creating special prosecutors for weapon crimes and applying harsh sentences for illegal firearm possession. Gun exchange programs, in which local governments offer incentives to citizens to surrender illegal arms, have taken thousands of guns off of the streets in Mexico, but Islas Negrete thinks that such programs are not extensive enough, and that a successful disarmament program should have a national character.
“Those programs have had certain success in some places,” said Islas Negrete. “But it’s been minimal. There needs to be a large coordinated effort between federal and local authorities to disarm citizens at a national level, in all states at the same time.”
Islas Negrete noted that between September 2011 and September 2016, Colima, the home state of Senator Preciado, had the highest homicide rate of any state in Mexico.
Senator Preciado has announced that on Nov. 16 he will hold a forum in the senate to discuss his initiative.