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COMMENTARY: Mexico comes after U.S. gunmakers

In August, the government of Mexico filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court against gun manufacturers and distributors. This first-of-its-kind lawsuit seeks to impose liability on 11 companies and hold them accountable for negligent commercial practices that actively facilitate unlawful trafficking of their guns into Mexico.

According to data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, between 70 percent and 90 percent of the guns recovered in crime scenes in Mexico come illicitly from the United States. It is estimated that more than half a million weapons are trafficked into our country illegally from the United States every year.

That means that our country is flooded by guns coming from the United States, a foreseeable result of deliberate and knowing decisions by gun companies to design, market, distribute and sell weapons to criminals in Mexico.

It is significant to note that this lawsuit is not against the U.S. government nor against the right of Americans to keep and bear arms in their country as outlined by the Second Amendment. We are absolutely respectful of the rights of U.S. citizens, their laws and the Constitution and do not interfere in domestic politics.

The lawsuit is about holding gun companies accountable for producing more than 68 percent (or more than 340,000 guns) of trafficked weapons to our country, fueling drug violence that hurts communities on both sides of the border. These are companies that, despite knowing of their massive trafficking in guns and the damage it causes, have not implemented any public-safety-related monitoring or disciplining controls on their distribution systems — none at all.

The government of Mexico is committed to stop the illicit flow of handguns and semiautomatic rifles to Mexico. This civil lawsuit is an additional effort to support this commitment. Thus we are demanding, among others issues, that gun companies remedy the public nuisance they have created in Mexico; create and implement standards to reasonably monitor and discipline their distribution systems; incorporate all reasonably available safety mechanisms into their guns, including devices to prevent use of those guns by unauthorized users; and take all necessary actions to abate the current and future harm that their conduct is causing in Mexico.

This action adds to Mexico’s long-standing multilateral efforts on different arenas and levels. At the U.N. Security Council, Mexico has promoted an open debate on the impact of arms trafficking for peace and security, especially considering its disproportionate impact on women and children. It has stressed the importance of joint action by government and the private sector at origin and destination countries to solve this issue. Additionally, during the last North American Leaders’ Summit that took place in November, Mexico, the United States and Canada expressed their commitment to institutionalize the trilateral mechanisms that allow to solve regional challenges, such as arms trafficking.

It has been encouraging to receive international support and recognition on this much-needed issue. Just to mention an example, these bold actions have been highlighted by the nonpartisan organization Arms Control Association, which recently nominated the government of Mexico and the secretary of foreign affairs for the recognition of 2021 Arms Control Person of the Year. This nomination acknowledges all our efforts to stop gun violence and validates the relevance of the civil lawsuit. But mainly, it recognizes the widespread belief of our country and our people that it is in the best interest of both Mexico and the United States to stop criminals and cartels from acquiring the illegal weapons that hurt our societies.

I encourage those who share our belief to express your support to stop gun trafficking and for a more peaceful future for our families on both sides of the border.

Julian Escutia-Rodriguez is consul of Mexico in Las Vegas.

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