The Mexican government on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against 10 major U.S. gun companies alleging lax controls contribute to the illegal flow of weapons across the southern border.
The suit filed in federal court in Massachusetts accuses the companies of actively facilitating the flow of firearms to drug cartels in the past decade as more than 2.5 million American guns have illegally crossed into Mexico with 70% of guns traced in the country tracked back to the United States.
“For decades, the government and its citizens have been victimized by a deadly flood of military-style and other particularly lethal guns that flows from the U.S. across the border,” the lawsuit states.
The suit specifically cites Smith & Wesson; Barett Firearms Manufacturing; Beretta U.S.A.; Beretta Holding; Century International Arms; Colt’s Manufacturing Company; Glock, Inc.; Glock Ges.m.b.H; Sturm, Ruger & Co.; and gun supplier Witmer Public Saftey Group.
It states that these manufacturers “are conscious of the fact that their products are trafficked and used in illicit activities” in Mexico.
“Nonetheless, they continue to prioritize their economic benefit and use marketing strategies to promote weapons that are ever more lethal without mechanisms of security or traceability,” the lawsuit said.
The Mexican government alleged that U.S. gunmakers design weapons that explicitly appeal to Mexican crime groups such as the Colt .38 Super pistol which is engraved with an image of revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata and a quote attributed to him: “It is better to die standing than to live on your knees.”
That weapon was used by a gunman in the assassination of investigative journalist Miroslava Breach in 2017.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for the American firearms industry, rejected the lawsuit’s claims in a statement Wednesday.
“These allegations are baseless,” said Lawrence G. Keane, the group’s senior vice president and general counsel. “The Mexican government is responsible for the rampant crime and corruption within their own borders.”
The suit is unlikely to gain traction due to a 2005 U.S. law that shields gun manufacturers from most civil liability claims but Mexican government officials said they hope it will draw attention to the issues.
“If we don’t file a suit like this and win it, they’re never going to understand, they’re going to continue doing the same thing and we will continue having deaths every day in our country,” Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Edbrard, said.
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