The Mercury News

Mexico sues gunmakers in U.S. over arms traffickin­g toll.

Negligent facilitati­on of the flow of arms argued in complaint

- By Natalie Kitroeff and Oscar Lopez

MEXICO CITY >> In a first, the Mexican government on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in the United States against 11 gun manufactur­ers and suppliers, accusing them of negligentl­y facilitati­ng the flow of weapons to powerful drug cartels and enabling tremendous bloodshed in Mexico.

The complaint, filed in a federal court in Massachuse­tts, accuses companies including Smith & Wesson and Colt of designing, marketing, distributi­ng, and selling guns “in ways they know routinely arm the drug cartels in Mexico.”

“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 reads. The flood of weaponry is “the foreseeabl­e result of the defendants’ deliberate actions and business practices.”

Mexican officials have long blamed gun manufactur­ers and lax U.S. gun regulation­s for playing a role in the country’s raging violence. But officials said this is the first time a national government has filed suit against gun companies in the United States.

Mexico has strict laws regulating the sale and private use of guns, and the nation’s drug traffickin­g groups often arm themselves with weapons smuggled across the border. The Justice Department found that 70% of the firearms submitted for tracing in Mexico between 2014 and 2018 originated in the United States.

“These weapons are intimately linked to the violence that Mexico is living through today,” Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said at a news conference on Wednesday.

The Mexican government said in the lawsuit that U.S. gun laws have a direct effect on violence in Mexico. When the U.S. assault weapons ban ended in 2004, the government said, gun-makers “exploited the opening to vastly increase production, particular­ly of the military-style assault weapons favored by the drug cartels.”

It isn’t clear what chance the Mexican government has of prevailing in its lawsuit. A 2005 U.S. federal statute gave gun manufactur­ers far-reaching immunity from being sued by victims of gun violence and their relatives.

The companies named in the suit are Smith & Wesson; Barrett Firearms Manufactur­ing; Beretta USA; Beretta Holding; Century Internatio­nal Arms; Colt’s Manufactur­ing Co.; Glock, Inc.; Glock Ges.m.b.H; Sturm, Ruger & Co.; and Witmer Public Safety Group and Interstate Arms, both gun suppliers.

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 ?? JOHN LOCHER — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? The Mexican government sued U.S. gun manufactur­ers and distributo­rs in U.S. federal court in Boston, arguing that their commercial practices have unleashed tremendous bloodshed in Mexico.
JOHN LOCHER — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS The Mexican government sued U.S. gun manufactur­ers and distributo­rs in U.S. federal court in Boston, arguing that their commercial practices have unleashed tremendous bloodshed in Mexico.

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