Marine Wrongfully Imprisoned in Mexico is Home for Christmas

This is a follow up on the case of Jon Hammar being arrested in Mexico on an antiquated weapons law.  Hammar spent 5 months in a Mexican prison without ever seeing a judge because an antique shotgun he tried to legally take into Mexico had a barrel that was one inch shorter than Mexican law would allow.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and several other politicians pressured the State Department to get involved in Hammar’s case to help get him released from the Mexican prison in Matamoros, which is reported to be one of the most dangerous prisons in all of Mexico.

On Friday, the State Department announced that Hammar had been released from prison and had been escorted to the US border where he was reunited with his parents.  The Mexican authorities determined that there was no criminal intent on the part of Hammar, so he was released to State Department officials.

In a statement issued by the State Department:

“Officials from the U.S. Consulate General in Matamoros met him at the prison and escorted him to the U.S. border, where he was reunited with members of his family.  We sincerely appreciate the efforts on the part of Mexican authorities to ensure that an appropriate resolution was made in accordance with Mexican law, and that Mr. Hammar will be free to spend the holidays with his loved ones.”

But how did this all happen to begin with?

When Hammar arrived at the US-Mexico border, he presented his shotgun to US Border agents and requested a permit to take the gun with him across the border.  They gave him the paperwork and told him to proceed.  When he entered Mexico and presented the shotgun and paperwork, he was arrested because Mexico has a law that states the barrel length of a shotgun must be 25 inches or longer and Hammar’s antique shotgun only had a barrel length of 24 inches.

Hammar should have done a little more research before taking the shotgun with him on his trip.  It is illegal for any private citizen to own a firearm in Mexico without special government permits.  (This is why Mexico has such a high incidence of gun related crimes including murder.)  The Mexican government will issue a special permit to allow a gun to be brought into the country for hunting, but those permits have to be issued by the Mexican government prior to entering the country.

The US government warns all citizens against taking guns or ammunition into Mexico.  You would think that the US Border agents would have known this and that they should have told Hammar about the Mexican laws and that he could not take the gun with him.  Instead, they gave him paperwork and said go ahead.

Therefore, the fault lies with both Hammar and the US Border agents.

Let this be a lesson for anyone planning any travel outside the US.  Before you take a weapon or ammunition with you, do some research into the laws of the country(s) you are traveling to.  It may save you from the same kind of harrowing experience that Jon Hammar had.