The Mexican government filed a lawsuit against ten major U.S. gun manufacturers on Wednesday, alleging that lax controls contribute to the illegal flow of weapons across the southern border.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Massachusetts, accuses the companies of actively facilitating the flow of firearms to drug cartels over the last decade, during which time more than 2.5 million American guns have illegally crossed into Mexico, with 70 percent of guns traced 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.
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 Safety Group are all named in the suit.
According to the report, these manufacturers “are aware that their products are trafficked and used in illegal 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.
According to the Mexican government, US 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.”
A gunman used that weapon in the 2017 assassination of investigative journalist Miroslava Breach.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for the American firearms industry, rejected the lawsuit’s claims.
“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.