Mexico Sues Gun Companies in U.S., Accusing Them of Fueling Violence
MEXICO CITY – As a first step, the Mexican government on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in the United States against 11 manufacturers and suppliers of firearms, accusing them of negligently facilitating the flow of weapons to powerful drug cartels and to allow a huge bloodshed in Mexico.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Massachusetts, accuses companies such as Smith & Wesson and Colt of designing, marketing, distributing and selling weapons “in a way they know how to regularly arm drug cartels in Mexico.” .
“For decades, the government and its citizens have been victims of a deadly stream of military-style weapons and other particularly lethal weapons that flow from the United States across the border,” the lawsuit said. The influx of arms is “the predictable result of the deliberate actions and business practices of the accused”.
Mexican officials have long accused gunmakers and lax US regulations of playing a role in the violence raging in the country. But officials said it was the first time a national government has taken action against gun companies in the United States.
Mexico has strict laws regulating the sale and private use of firearms, and the country’s drug trafficking groups often arm themselves with weapons smuggled across the border. The Justice Department found that 70% of firearms submitted for tracing in Mexico between 2014 and 2018 came from the United States.
“These weapons are intimately linked to the violence that Mexico is experiencing today,” Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Wednesday at a press conference.
The Mexican government said in the lawsuit that US gun laws have a direct effect on violence in Mexico. When the US ban on assault weapons ended in 2004, the government said gun manufacturers “exploited the opening to dramatically increase production, especially military-style assault rifles. favored by the drug cartels “.
At the same time, murders in Mexico began to rise, reaching record levels in 2018, when more than 36,000 people were killed across the country.
The lawsuit was filed the day after Mr. Ebrard attended a ceremony commemorating the 23 people killed by a gunman at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, in 2019, including several Mexican citizens.
Despite President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s election promise that year to stem the bloodshed by tackling the root causes of the violence, a strategy he called “no bullets”, authorities have so far not been able to blunt the carnage.
Since Mr López Obrador’s landslide victory three years ago, the number of murders has fallen by less than 1%. So far this year, more than 16,000 people have been killed in Mexico, according to government figures.
It is not clear what chance the Mexican government has of winning in its lawsuit. A 2005 US federal law granted firearm manufacturers sweeping immunity from prosecution by victims of gun violence and their families. But President Biden has repeatedly expressed his support for the repeal of the law.
Officials from Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said the ultimate goal of the lawsuit was to get American arms manufacturers to be more responsible in the sale and marketing of their weapons. The lawsuit does not specify how much compensation the government is seeking, but Foreign Ministry officials said they calculated up to $ 10 billion in potential damage.
The companies named in the lawsuit are Smith & Wesson; Barrett Firearms Manufacturing; Beretta United States; Beretta Holding; International weapons of the century; Colt’s manufacturing company; Glock, Inc .; Glock Ges.mbH; Sturm, Ruger & Co.; and Witmer Public Safety Group and Interstate Arms, both firearms suppliers.
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