Mexico has filed an appeal in a civil lawsuit against US gun manufacturers over alleged weapon trafficking, after a US judge dismissed the case in September. The government had sought $10bn in damages, claiming that the gun makers were responsible for facilitating the trafficking of arms across the border into the hands of drug cartels. The appeal is aimed at Beretta, Barrett, Colt, Century, Glock, Ruger, Smith & Wesson and Witmer. The companies, none of which has responded to the new lawsuit, have denied similar accusations in the past.
The Mexican government in its statement said that the companies’ “negligent practices” resulted in gun trafficking, leading to “violence in Mexico, as well as other crimes such as human trafficking and drug trafficking”. The appeal attempts to place the gun makers in a category with other corporate entities accused of facilitating illegal activities, including cigarette makers and pharmaceutical firms. Mexico also argued that allowing the gun lawsuit to proceed would cause no breach of US laws governing the arms market. Currently, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act put in place in 2005 provides broad protections for gun manufacturers, making it difficult for civil suits to be brought against them.
Gun violence remains an ongoing issue in the Central American country, with the recent kidnapping and subsequent murder of four Americans in Tamaulipas state bringing attention to the matter. The case has brought the focus back onto drug cartels that have wreaked havoc across Mexico, something that President Andrés Manuel López Obrador had hoped to have tackled through his national ‘hugs not bullets’ policy. The government has also recently criticised US border policies, and the new lawsuit may signal an intention to maintain a tougher line towards gun makers and focus more pressure on the US government to help combat illegal weapon sales.