U.S. Gun Manufactures Under Fire

This picture shows many small American flags positioned as a backdrop with a small pistol placed over the top. The gun has a coppery metal look to the barrel, muzzle and cylinder. The handle grip is a dark brown.

In August of 2021, Mexico’s government filed a lawsuit against select United States gun manufacturers. According to CNN reporter Dakin Adone, this lawsuit was galvanized by the U.S.  providing Mexico with firearms that cause mass harm to mostly rural areas south of the United States border.

American-made firearms are getting in the hands of Mexican-based cartels, and the lawsuit claims that the United States gun manufacturers are aware, but have failed to halt the process of the selling and distribution of the weapons. The lawsuit also states that “reckless and corrupt gun dealers and dangerous and illegal sales practices that the cartels rely on to get their guns,” then goes on to state that there needs to be someone responsible for the steady crime increase in Mexico. 

The document goes on to claim that the crime in Mexico decreased between 1999 to 2004 (when the United States had a ban on assault weapons), but began to increase when the ban was lifted. 

In November of 2021 U.S. gun manufacturers filed claims that additional third parties contribute to the violence, and that placing the suit on select companies would not hold. The statement was proven and the Mexico Government backed off, not following through with the suit. However, the violence has not stopped since then, which has caused 13 states to side with the Mexican government (California, New York, Massachusetts, and Minnesota). 

According to statements from Massachusetts Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey, the United States supplying Mexico with firearms is fueling widespread violence across their country. California Attorney General Rob Bonta emphasized the harm of the gun manufacturers’ distribution: “While the law may grant firearms manufacturers some protection, it is not a free pass to knowingly allow their products to land in dangerous hands”. 

In response to controversy about U.S. distribution of firearms, the gun manufacturers responded with the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). This act is designed to prevent firearms manufacturers from being held liable for any resulting harm or damage. With the PLCAA protecting U.S firearm manufacturers, it is unclear if Mexico has a leg to stand on when filing for its lawsuit. 

A leader of one of the 13 states standing with Mexico in the lawsuit thought that the gun manufacturers were aware of the people the weapons were going to. “It is unacceptable,” said Healey, “for gun manufacturers and distributors to knowingly market their products in a way that facilitates the illegal trafficking of weapons into the hands of dangerous individuals.” Proving that firearms manufacturers are aware of the distribution of weaponry will be a difficult task.

CNN reporter, Dakin Adone, reached out to the select companies named in the lawsuit, but has yet to hear back from the companies. A firearm industry group, National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), released their opinion on Mexico’s attempt to fix its cartel violence problem: “The Mexican government should focus on bringing the Mexican drug cartels to justice in Mexican courtrooms,” commented Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lawrence G. Keane, “not filing a baseless lawsuit in an American court to deflect attention from its disgraceful and corrupt failure to protect its citizens.” While some are criticizing Mexico’s government for taking a lawsuit approach to the problem, select countries are also pushing for the change.

Many countries, including a portion of the United States, are encouraging the Mexican government to continue with their lawsuit. CNN stated the countries of Antigua, Belize, and Barbuda all seek justice towards the reckless act of trade by the U.S. firearms manufacturers.