Mexico Sue’s United States’s Gun-Makers
In early August, the state of Mexico has sued eight gun manufacturers including Smith & Wesson, Barrett Firearms, Colt, Century, Glock, Strum, Ruger, and Beretta U.S.A. on claims of “negligence, public nuisance, unreasonable danger, negligence per se, gross negligence, unjust enrichment, and violations of consumer protection laws of Massachusetts and Connecticut” (Nelson, 2021). Mexico argues that gun manufacturers within the United States are purposefully implementing business practices directed towards the Mexican demographic, particularly drug cartels.
This was suggested through claims that American gun manufacturers had deliberately advertised to the Mexican audience by utilizing “Spanish nicknames and themes that resonate in Mexico” (Kitroeff and Lopez, 2021). An example the New York Times provided included engraving “the face of the Mexican revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata and a quote that has been attributed to him: ‘It is better to die standing than to live on your knees.’ Although the branding or advertising is directed towards an audience that may be known for improper conduct, due to legitimate procedures and the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Pact, there is an extremely thin line to no finite repercussion for the manufacturers. Since the potentially illegal conduct or transactions occur after a legitimate purchase of a firearm for example, gun manufacturers are not liable for the events held after the transaction.
The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Pact protects firearm manufacturers and dealers from being held liable for crimes involving their products post transactions. Although the act does not make them immune to lawsuits concerning defective products, breach of contracts, and similar instances where any manufacturer would be responsible, there is a large scope of protection for gun manufacturers to be held against the accountability for incidents after transactions are finalized.
Despite this overbearing protection surrounding gun manufacturers and dealers, Mexico believes it has the potential to win its case. “The government estimates that 70% of the weapons trafficked to Mexico come from the U.S., according to the Foreign Affairs Ministry” (The Associated Press, 2021). However, there has been conflict with this statistic as only a fragment of the guns recovered and only those that possess a serial number are being traced. This increases the likelihood of the guns being traced to originate from the United States. Regardless, even if the United States were selling guns over to Mexico legally, it would be difficult to directly display there is negligence in how gun manufacturers are distributing their products.
Nonetheless, Mexico believes it has a strong foundation for a case and believes with recent incidents such as Remington paying approximately a total of $33 million to families for settlements involving legal suits of the Sandy Hook massacre that occurred in 2012 (Agren and Holouch, 2021), there will be stricter gun regulations in the near future. Even if the lawsuit is able to make its way through court proceedings and fail, the attention of the case will shine a light on the illegal transactions of firearms gun manufacturers are aware of, but are also not legally responsible for. As President Joe Biden “urged Congress to repeal the federal statute that shields gun-makers from lawsuits” (Kitroeff and Lopez, 2021), there will most likely be a great deal of legal pressure and social pressure on the government and gun manufacturers to be more attentive towards how guns are sold and how they are distributed in various communities.
Agren David, Holpuch Amanda, Mexico sues US gun makers in unprecedented attempt to stop weapons crossing border, The Guardian, August 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/aug/04/mexico-guns-us-manufacturers-lawsuit
Graham Dave, Gottesdiener Laura, Mexico Sues U.S. gun makers, eyes $10 billion in damages, Reuters, August 2021, https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexico-sues-several-weapons-manufacturers-us-court-2021-08-04/
Mexico sues US gun manufacturers over arms trafficking, BBC News, August 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-58091071
Nelson Joshua, Mexico sues US gun manufacturers in federal crimes over court claims of fueling violence, Jurist, August 2021, https://www.jurist.org/news/2021/08/mexico-sues-us-gun-manufacturers-in-federal-court-over-claims-of-fueling-violence/
The Associated Press, Mexico Sues U.S. Gun Manufacturers for Contributing to Arms Trafficking Deaths, NPR, August 2021, https://www.npr.org/2021/08/05/1025011396/mexico-sues-u-s-gun-manufacturers-for-contributing-to-arms-trafficking-deaths
Kitroeff Natalie, Lopez Oscar, Mexico Sues Gun Companies in U.S. saying They Fuel Carnage,August 2021, A7, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/04/world/americas/mexico-lawsuit-gun-companies.html