Mexico files new lawsuit against US gun dealers

Mexico’s foreign minister accuses US companies of contributing to spread of illegal weapons, high homicide rates.

Marcelo Ebrard, in suit, against grey background with some flag showing.
'If we do not stop this large influx of weapons to Mexico, how could we stop the violence here?' Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard says [File: Luis Cortes/Reuters]

Mexico has filed another lawsuit in the United States against US companies it says are fuelling a surge in homicides and the flow of illegal weapons into the country, the Mexican foreign minister announced.

Foreign Relations Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said the new lawsuit targets five US gun dealers — all based in the state of Arizona — that have contributed to the widespread availability of weapons in Mexico and the country’s high homicide rate.

The move comes just more than a week after a US judge dismissed a separate $10bn lawsuit Mexico filed last year against 11 US gun manufacturers.

“If we do not stop this large influx of weapons to Mexico, how could we stop the violence here?” Ebrard said in a video shared on Twitter on Monday.

“If the United States is asking us to support them — and this a good thing that we would work together to combat fentanyl, chemical ingredients, drug cartels — we also want them to help us reduce this influx of weapons that does us great harm.”

Ebrard said the claim was filed in a court in Arizona.

The five companies named in the lawsuit are Sprague’s Sports, SNG Tactical, Diamondback Shooting Sports, Lone Prairie D/B/A Hub Target Sports and Ammo A-Z, Reuters reported.

SNG Tactical and Sprague’s Sports declined to comment, the news agency said, while the other dealers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In the new lawsuit, the Mexican government asks the court to require the defendants to institute standards for monitoring sales and “fund studies, programs, advertising campaigns and other events focused on preventing unlawful trafficking of guns”.

It also requests damages paid to the Mexican government to be determined in the trial.

Last week, Ebrard said Mexico also would appeal a September 30 US federal court decision that dismissed the country’s earlier $10bn lawsuit.

In that case, Mexico had accused 11 US gun manufacturers of employing reckless business practices that enabled the flow of guns into the country, undermining local laws and leading to thousands of deaths.

Judge F Dennis Saylor of the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts threw out Mexico’s lawsuit, saying the claims did not overcome the broad protection provided to gun manufacturers by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act passed in 2005.

The law shields gun manufacturers from damages “resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse” of a firearm.

The decision was a victory for gun makers, including Smith & Wesson Brands, Ruger & Co, Glock, and others accused of undermining Mexico’s strict laws on gun ownership by designing, marketing and selling military-style assault weapons that drug cartels have been using.

In the complaint, Mexico estimated that 2.2 percent of the nearly 40 million guns made annually in the US are smuggled into Mexico.

And in 2019 alone, at least 17,000 homicides were linked to weapons trafficked from the US, according to the complaint.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies