The Mexican government has announced it is suing a number of US gun companies, alleging that insufficient controls have led to the illegal flow of weapons over the border.
Mexican authorities argue that US-made weapons, and the manufacturers’ negligent business practices, have contributed to the shattering violence that has plagued parts of the country.
The lawsuit seeks financial compensation from the gun companies, in damages that Mexican officials have estimated to be as high as $10 billion, reports Reuters.
The US government is not a target of the suit, which names companies including Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc.; Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Inc; Beretta U.S.A. Corp; Glock, Inc; and Colt’s Manufacturing Co. Llc.
Legal gun sales in Mexico are restricted far more tightly than in the US. According to a Mexican government study released last year, around 2.5 million illicit American guns have been brought across the border in the last decade.
The Mexican Foreign Ministry said in a document related to the suit, that the arms manufacturers “are conscious of the fact that their products are trafficked and used in illicit activities against the civilian population and authorities of Mexico”.
The statement continued: “Nonetheless, they continue to prioritise their economic benefit, and use marketing strategies to promote weapons that are ever more lethal, without mechanisms of security or traceability.”
The Mexican government “brings this action to put an end to the massive damage that the Defendants cause by actively facilitating the unlawful trafficking of their guns to drug cartels and other criminals in Mexico,” the lawsuit said.
In addition to financial compensation, the companies named in the lawsuit are called upon to change their business practices to help prevent arms trafficking, reports The Washington Post.
The suit was scheduled to be filed a day after the anniversary of the 2019 mass shooting in the border city of El Paso, Tex., which left 23 people dead, including a number of Mexicans.
After the attack, Mexico’s foreign minister, Marcelo Ebrard, pledged to look into courses of legal action because of the harm to Mexican citizens.