The Mexican government’s lawsuit against US gun manufacturers may be a long shot. But if it succeeds, it could completely change the terrain in the fight to combat gun crime in both countries.
n August 4 of last year, the Mexican government filed a lawsuit in US Federal Court against 10 US gun manufacturers, including Glock, Colt, and Smith & Wesson. The suit accuses the gunmakers of knowingly “facilitating the trafficking” of massive quantities of firearms to Mexico’s notoriously violent drug cartels. This is the first time that a foreign government has sued the US gun industry. And though the fate of the suit remains far from clear, it is a striking challenge to the gun industry’s long-standing legal protections.
Mexico itself has strict gun laws, and bans the import of guns without a permit, yet the cartels still manage to obtain a steady flow of US-made firearms. According to the Mexican government’s complaint, 70 to 90 percent of guns recovered at Mexican crime scenes are US-made.
OPERATION FAST AND FURIOUS
Mexico goes to great lengths to keep the violence in check. In addition to its strict gun laws, which the suit says make it “virtually impossible for criminals to lawfully obtain guns,” there is only one gun shop in the entire country, which is operated by the military and is located on a military base. Just to enter the facility requires months of background checks, and the highest caliber firearm that can be purchased there is a .38 pistol. Mexico alleges that US gun makers undermine these strict measures by using “reckless and corrupt gun dealers and dangerous and illegal sales practices that the cartels rely on to get their guns.”