The Mexican government claims that American gun makers have knowingly adopted business practices that facilitate firearms smuggling.
The Mexican government has sued a number of U.S. firearms manufacturers and distributors, claiming that their “reckless” and “negligent” business practices have fueled enormous amounts of violence in Mexico.
National Public Radio reports that the lawsuit was filed in a Boston-area federal court.
The unusual lawsuit names as defendants a number of American gunmakers, including Smith & Wesson, Barrett Firearms Manufacturing Inc., Baretta U.S.A. Corp., Colt’s Manufacturing Company, and Glock Inc.
Interstate Firearms, a Massachusetts weapons wholesaler, is also named in the complaint.
According to NPR, Mexico claims that each of the listed companies knows or should have known that their business practices facilitate the trafficking of firearms to Mexico.
Now, Mexico wants a federal court to grant it recompense for the vast suffering gun violence has brought the country.
In its complaint, the country’s government says that it “brings this action to put an end to the massive damage that the Defendants cause by actively facilitating the unlawful trafficking of their guns to drug cartels and other criminals in Mexico.”
The lawsuit references the Mexican government’s estimate that about 70% of all firearms trafficked to Mexico originate in the United States. According to the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, about 17,000 homicides were linked to smuggled weapons in 2019 alone.
Alejandro Celerio, a legal adviser for the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said that the economic damage wrought by trafficked guns is equal to anywhere between 1.7 and 2% of Mexico’s gross domestic product.
“We don’t do it to pressure the United States,” Celerio told journalists on Wednesday. “We do it so there aren’t deaths in Mexico.”
However, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an interest group representing the firearms industry, has said that Mexico’s accusations lack any merit.
“These allegations are baseless,” said NHSF senior vice president and general counsel Lawrence G. Keane.
Keane said that the Mexican government—not the United States, and not American gun manufacturers—is solely responsible for enforcing its firearms laws.
“Mexico’s criminal activity is a direct result of the illicit drug trade, human trafficking and organized crime cartels that plague Mexico’s citizens,” he added.
Nevertheless, another official from the Mexican government told The New York Times that the lawsuit’s ultimate goal is to make U.S.-based gun manufacturers and suppliers be more responsible in the sale and marketing of their weapons.
While the lawsuit does not seek a specific amount of compensation, the Times says Foreign Affairs Ministry officials have suggested they may be eligible to request up to $10 billion in damages.