Why Mexico is Suing U.S. Firearms Manufacturers

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posted on August 5, 2021
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Rob Young courtesy Flickr

So the Mexican government filed a civil lawsuit in a U.S. federal court in Boston against gun manufacturers and distributors. Mexico’s government is arguing that American gun makers are responsible for horrific crimes committed by Mexican drug cartels.

This lawsuit names, among others, Smith & Wesson Brands Inc., Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Inc., Beretta U.S.A. Corp., Colt’s Manufacturing Company LLC and Glock Inc.

For perspective, realize that the Mexican government did not sue the Obama administration for Operation Fast and Furious, a gun-running operation in which officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) told U.S. gun-store owners to sell guns to known gun runners. ATF leadership then ordered its agents to stand down as the guns were trafficked to Mexico. All that came out in congressional hearings. ATF whistleblowers even detailed how they were ordered to allow the bad guys to buy and traffic guns illegally to Mexico—at least one of those trafficked guns was used to murder a U.S. Border Patrol agent. Yet the Mexican government didn’t sue former President Barack Obama (D) or his then-attorney general, Eric Holder. Instead, Obama used executive privilege to hide any involvement the White House might have had in the scandal.

Yet now, the Mexican government thinks firearms manufacturers owe them $10 billion for their internal corruption, failures to combat gangs and drug cartels, and more.

This is finger-pointing of the worst kind. It is the same dishonest tactic some anti-Second Amendment mayors used in the early 2000s as they tried to punish gun makers and dealers for the actions of criminals. Congress stopped these frivolous lawsuits by passing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) in 2005.

“All firearms sold at retail within the United States are sold in accordance with federal and state laws, with an FBI background check and forms completed. Allegations of wholesale cross-border gun trafficking are patently and demonstrably false,” responded the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).

“These allegations are baseless. The Mexican government is responsible for the rampant crime and corruption within their own borders,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. “Mexico’s criminal activity is a direct result of the illicit drug trade, human trafficking and organized crime cartels that plague Mexico’s citizens. It is these cartels that criminally misuse firearms illegally imported into Mexico or stolen from the Mexican military and law enforcement. Rather than seeking to scapegoat law-abiding American businesses, Mexican authorities must focus their efforts on bringing the cartels to justice. The Mexican government, which receives considerable aid from U.S. taxpayers, is solely responsible for enforcing its laws—including the country’s strict gun control laws—within their own borders.

“The American people through their elected officials decide the laws governing the lawful commerce in firearms in our country,” Keane said. “This lawsuit filed by an American gun-control group representing Mexico is an affront to U.S. sovereignty and a threat to the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms. A right denied to the Mexican people who are unable to defend themselves from the cartels.”

To back up its point, the NSSF detailed some of the known numbers of recovered crime guns in Mexico. They noted, for example, that less than 12% of the guns Mexico seized in 2008, for example, were verified as coming from the U.S.

But even numbers like these are highly suspect; for example, the NSSF noted that The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars pointed out that many of the serial numbers submitted for tracing were submitted to the ATF multiple times.

The NSSF also pointed out that the “U.S. government also sells firearms directly to the Mexican government. Mexican soldiers continue to defect to work for the drug cartels, taking their American-made service rifles with them. In recent years the number of defections has soared to more than 150,000. According to U.S. State Department cables, the most lethal weapons used by Mexican cartels come from Central American arsenals. Additionally, according to a 2006 report by Amnesty International, China was actively supplying arms to Latin American countries, which have subsequently been seized in Mexico.”

Clearly, this lawsuit is nothing but a transparent attempt by the Mexican government to shift blame away from its tragic failure to protect its own people.

It also makes me recall the many media requests I sent to Mexican authorities while Operation Fast and Furious was breaking news. They ignored every request. A reporter at a Spanish newspaper in Los Angeles told me at the time at a congressional hearing on Operation Fast and Furious that they wouldn’t even respond to her. “They will only speak to reporters who write or say what they want,” she told me.

Meanwhile, this frivolous lawsuit will give the Biden administration more anti-Second Amendment talking points—and perhaps that’s part of the reason for the suit.

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