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Yesterday, the Mexican government sued several firearm manufacturers in U.S. Federal Court, accusing the manufacturers of reckless business practices of their products. Practices that the Mexican government believes helped supply a “torrent” of illegal firearms to the Mexican drug cartels. Illegal firearms which they believe has lead to thousands of deaths throughout their country.

In the Federal lawsuit filed by the Mexican government the suit claims that Smith & Wesson, Barrett Firearms, Colt Manufacturing, Glock, Ruger, and other companies knew that their business practices has encouraged the trafficking of arms into Mexico. The lawsuit also cites that weapons that where brought into Mexico illegally where used in well known shootings throughout the country. The suit also references a popular Colt 1911 chambered in .38 special as the “Zapata 1911”. This pistol is engraved with the revolutionary leader image which is a prized possesion and status symbol within the cartels.

What is the objective of the lawsuit?

The objective of this lawsuit by the Mexican government is for financial compensation. The government wants to be compensated for the damages the feel their owed due to the firearm manufacturers “negligent practices,” according to Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard. The lawsuit was filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts. The lawsuit is the most audacious steps taken by Mexico to pressure the firearms industry here in America. For years Mexican politicians and leadership has talked about the influx of illegally trafficked firearms into its nation.

In the lawsuit Mexican officials are seeking a compensation of up to $10 billion dollars according to reports. “Companies needed to put an immediate stop to their harmful practices,” says Foreign Minister Ebrard, noting that the federal courts would have the final say on compensation.

The Mexican government has spent the last two years analyzing legal precedents over potential
perceived negligence by firearm manufacturers.
Mexico makes the bold accusation that these companies are disregarded its strict gun laws by marketing to the country’s cartels. That marketing is “actively facilitating the unlawful trafficking of their guns to drug cartels,” according to the suit.

The lawsuit also cites the legal case against Remington Arms. Vs. Soto. In that case Remington is paying $33 million dollars to families of the Sandy Hook shooting to settle claims the marketing of firearms contributed to 2012 Sandy Hook shooting. Other lawsuits have used claims of improper marketing in attempts to strengthen their argument against firearm companies. Firearms manufacturers and the auto industry have the same protections against lawsuits on the basis of improper use of their products and not being held liable for that misuse. Which many politicians, lawyers, and anti-gun activists believe firearm companies shouldn’t have these legal protections under the law.

In Mexico’s lawsuit it states that over 500,000 firearms are trafficked annually from the United States into Mexico. Out of those 500,000 trafficked firearms, roughly 68% or 340,000 of those firearms are produced by the companies named in the lawsuit.

In 2019, at least 17,000 murders where due to trafficked guns according to an Mexican official. While another official estimated the economic impact for this cartel violence has cost Mexico 1.7% of its national GDP. Mexican politicians and officials believe this case will take a long time to resolve but, believe they will be successful in the end. Mexican officials said the case was sent to U.S. courts to ensure impartiality. The reason why the lawsuit was submitted in Massachusetts was due to many of the companies being based in the state.

Mexican officials said the lawsuit was not aimed at the U.S. government and they believe the Biden Administration is willing to work with Mexico to curb illegal firearm trafficking. The announcement of the lawsuit was made after Foreign Minister Ebrard visited El Paso to commemorate the second anniversary of the deadly Walmart shooting.

News agencies reached out to the firearm companies named in the suit with no immediate response to requests for comment.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation did respond and rejected Mexico’s claims that U.S. firearm manufacturers are negligent in their business practices or marketing in a press release.

Below, is the press release from NSSF in regards to the Mexico’s lawsuit.

Press Release

NEWTOWN, Conn. — NSSF®, the firearm industry trade association, rejects Mexico’s allegations that U.S. firearm manufacturers participated in negligent business practices. All firearms sold at retail within the United States are sold in accordance with federal and state laws, with an FBI background check and forms completed. Allegations of wholesale cross-border gun trafficking are patently and demonstrably false.

“These allegations are baseless. The Mexican government is responsible for the rampant crime and corruption within their own borders,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “Mexico’s criminal activity is a direct result of the illicit drug trade, human trafficking and organized crime cartels that plague Mexico’s citizens. It is these cartels that criminally misuse firearms illegally imported into Mexico or stolen from the Mexican military and law enforcement. Rather than seeking to scapegoat law-abiding American businesses, Mexican authorities must focus their efforts on bringing the cartels to justice. The Mexican government, which receives considerable aid from U.S. taxpayers, is solely responsible for enforcing its laws – including the country’s strict gun control laws – within their own borders.

“The American people through their elected officials decide the laws governing the lawful commerce in firearms in our country,” Keane added. “This lawsuit filed by an American gun control group representing Mexico is an affront to U.S. sovereignty and a threat to the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms. A right denied to the Mexican people who are unable to defend themselves from the cartels.”

Less than 12 percent of the guns Mexico seized in 2008, for example, have been verified as coming from the U.S. In 2008, approximately 30,000 firearms were seized from criminals in Mexico. Of these 30,000, only 7,200 (24 percent) were submitted to the ATF for tracing. This is because only these firearms were likely to have come from the U.S., a determination made by the presence of a U.S.-mandated serial number and the firearm’s make and model – requirements under federal law as part of the Gun Control Act of 1968. Of the 7,200 firearms submitted for tracing, only about 4,000 (13 percent) could be traced by the ATF of which roughly 3,480 (12 percent) came from the U.S. Although 3,480 is approximately 90 percent of the firearms successfully traced, it is hardly the mythical 90 percent of the total firearms recovered.

Even the more accurate 12 percent figure overestimates the true number of firearms from the United States. The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Mexico Institute) points out that many of the serial numbers submitted for tracing were submitted to the ATF multiple times, some as many as five times each. The ATF has noted that more than 20 percent of the firearms submitted for tracing are duplicates. With such errors distorting the statistics it is clear that even fewer than 12 percent of these firearms originated in the U.S. And of the small number that did come from the U.S., many did not come from retail firearm sales.

Furthermore, of those firearms successfully traced, on average they were sold at retail 14 years earlier and following an FBI background check. This dispels the notion often repeated by the press that there is a flood of recently purchased firearms heading into Mexico from the United States.

The U.S. government also sells firearms directly to the Mexican government. Mexican soldiers continue to defect to work for the drug cartels, taking their American-made service rifles with them. In recent years the number of defections has soared to more than 150,000. According to U.S. State Department cables, the most lethal weapons used by Mexican cartels come from Central American arsenals. Additionally, according to a 2006 report by Amnesty International, China was actively supplying arms to Latin American countries, which have subsequently been seized in Mexico.

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