The Mexican government has launched legal action against some of the biggest gun manufacturers in the United States, for contributing to gun violence that resulted in thousands of deaths.
The complaint was filed on Wednesday, August 4, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
The Mexican government accused units of Smith & Wesson, Barrett Firearms, Colt’s Manufacturing Company, Glock, and Ruger of preying on Mexican drug cartels' demands and making their economic lifeline via the illicit market in the country, according to the Guardian.
The case referenced U.S. firearms that were used in renowned shootings, such as the Colt's.38-caliber "Emiliano Zapata 1911" pistol, which is embossed with the picture of the Mexican revolutionary and is a status symbol desired by drug gangs. Mexico said this proves the companies particularly produce weapons for Mexican consumers.
The BBC reported that Mexico said the U.S. gun companies employed marketing tactics to push weapons that were even more dangerous, without security or traceability procedures.
The legal action was part of Mexico’s effort to put pressure on the U.S. arms business, which it has alleged for years of being responsible for stoking gang violence.
“The companies must immediately stop negligent practices, which cause damage in Mexico and cause deaths in Mexico,” said Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard at a news conference.
Demanding the companies to immediately terminate their dangerous business, Mexican officials said the lawsuit sought an estimated $10 billion in compensation. The court might decide differently.
Since weapons are sold under rigorous regulations in Mexico, and they can only be lawfully purchased at one shop on an army base in the city, the U.S. supply becomes a favorable alternative.
A Mexican government statement revealed that pistols, rifles, assault weapons, and ammunition can easily be obtained online, in supermarkets, and at arms fairs in the U.S. by criminal organizations, which would then be brought back to the country, BBC reported.
The lawsuit said over 500,000 guns are smuggled into the country each year, with the alleged companies responsible for more than 68 percent of them, or over 340,000, of them.
While homicide rates in Mexico have reached new highs in recent years, more than 17,000 murders have been linked to smuggled guns in Mexico just in 2019.
“We’re going to litigate in all seriousness and we’re going to win at trial,” Ebrard stated. “And we’re going to drastically reduce the illegal weapons trafficking to Mexico, which cannot remain unpunished with respect to those who produce, promote, and encourage this trafficking from the United States.”
The National Shooting Sports Foundation Inc (NSSF) did not approve Mexico's allegations that U.S. gunmakers were reckless in their business practices, however, NBC News noted.
“The Mexican government is responsible for the rampant crime and corruption within their own borders,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF’s senior vice president, who argued that the guns cartels use could be illegally imported into Mexico, or could be stolen from the Mexican military and cops.
Mexican officials stated that the case was not directed against the U.S. government, and Ebrard remarked that he believed the Biden administration was willing to engage with Mexico to combat the illegal arms trade.
Despite Mexico’s confidence, experts worried that the companies would be spared of any responsibility thanks to U.S. law, said BBC.