Mexico Wins Big against U.S. Gunmakers in $10B Lawsuit

By: Ben Campbell | Last updated: Feb 08, 2024

The Mexican government is currently engaged in a lawsuit against weapons manufacturers in the U.S. in an attempt to stop the guns from ending up in the hands of the cartels. 

In February 2024, the Mexican representatives will sit before a Chief U.S. District Judge as they bring forth a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against American gunmakers.

Mexican Government Fighting against Arms Trafficking

On February 9, 2024, the Mexican government will stand before Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV in Massachusetts.

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Photograph of a gun store in Lake Barrington, Illinois.

Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Mexican lawyers working on behalf of the state will bring forth a 10$ billion lawsuit against five U.S. weapons manufacturers and one Mexcian distributor. 

Guns End Up with the Cartels

According to reports, the Mexican government claims U.S. gunmakers are willingly allowing U.S. firearms to cross the border. 

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Crime scene where El Diario Newspaper Crime Reporter Armando Rodriquez was murdered outside his home while warming up his car

Source: Shaul Schwarz/Getty Images

The Mexican government argues the weapons end up in the possession of cartels, which is drastically increasing the homicide rate across the nation.

Mexico Issues Little to No Guns

Unlike the U.S., which has thousands of gun stores, Mexico has a single arms dealer that issues less than 50 licenses each year. 

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A man dressed in a black t-shirt and jeans carries a small gun

Source: Freepik

Yet, at best estimates, anywhere between 300,000 and 600,000 weapons illegally cross the border into Mexico annually.

Weapons of War

The Mexican government claims thousands of weapons capable of instigating war are being smuggled across the border from the U.S each year. 

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A man dressed in a checkered shirt aims down the sights of a large rifle

Source: Freepik

This includes high-powered .50 caliber sniper rifles that are equipped with armor-piercing ammunition. 

Case Dismissed the First Time Around

The weapons manufacturers managed to get the case dismissed by Judge Saylor back in 2022.

A judge dressed in a dark suit sits at his desk as he writes down notes

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According to the gunmakers, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act prohibits any kind of lawsuit brought against them for how the weapons are used.

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U.S Court of Appeals Claims Exceptions Apply

The Mexican government decided to appeal Saylor’s decision by taking their case to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

A judge holds his hammer as he stands beside a wooden desk that holds an American flag

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They later reversed the dismissal after claiming certain exceptions apply, and now the case will be settled in a Massachusetts court.

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AR-15s Taken Across the Border

A separate lawsuit brought forth by the Mexican government, centered on the trafficking of AR-15 rifles across the border.

A man dressed in a leather jacket stands armed with a rifle

Source: Freepik

On February 22, a status conference will be held in Arizona’s District Court. According to reports, six of the rifles were illegally taken across the border by gun dealers from the state.

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Defendants Try to Dismiss Case

The defendants have argued the Mexican officials lack jurisdiction and failed to state a claim.

A lawyer sits down with a client at a wooden table to take notes for a case

Source: Freepik

What this means is that even if the Mexcian representatives present facts, it will be difficult to establish whether or not there was a direct cause of action.

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New Judge Takes Over the Case

Senior U.S. District Judge Cindy Jorgenson initially oversaw the case. Yet, she recused herself at the end of 2023. 

A blonde-haired judge stands with a coffee in her hand as she prepares to begin working

Source: Freepik

Now, the case will be taken on by U.S. District Judge Rosemary Marquez. 

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Mexican Government Happy with the Change

It appears the Mexican government is pleased with the change of judge

A lawyer looks over notes and writes down information about an upcoming case

Source: Freepik

A statement shared with Border Report claims Marquez has requested both parties provide her with any information deemed necessary to the case.

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Foreign Ministry Speaks on the Situation

Speaking on Marquez’s decision, the Foreign Ministry alluded to the Judge’s professionalism.

Various reporters stand extending their arms out with microphones

Source: Freepik

“This request reflects Judge Marquez’s deep interest in conducting a thorough analysis of the matter, which confirms the seriousness and importance of the case,” they said.

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How the Decision Affects the Mexican Border

Mexico has been struggling with cartels and crime elements for years, and now that it will be harder for guns to cross the border, it should help improve the situation at border crossings. 

A road running near the American-Mexico border wall.

Alejandro Cartagena/Unsplash

The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs estimated in 2023 that between 200,000 and 500,000 firearms are smuggled into Mexico every year.

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Crisis at the Border

Criminal elements in Mexico are currently helping fuel the so-called ‘border crisis’ that is developing on the United States’ southern border. 

A border wall cutting through a landscape.

Greg Bulla/Unsplash

The Homeland Security Committee in 2023 estimated that since Joe Biden took office, there have been over 7.5 million encounters with border crosses nationwide, with 6.2 million of those being on the country’s southwest border.

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Drugs Crossing Over From Mexico

Another way cartels are fueling the immigration crisis at the southern border is through their drug trade of controlled substances like fentanyl. 

A collection of different pills.

Myriam Zilles/Unsplash

The New York Post reported in September that cartels employ a strategy of sending mobs of migrant workers all at once to overwhelm the US Border Patrol. This provides them an opportunity to more easily smuggle these dangerous substances into the US.

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Asylum Seeker Worries Are Being Exploited

Another strategy that cartels use to exasperate the border crisis is to spread misinformation about Biden’s position on asylum seekers. 

Three children walking through a migrant camp.

Julie Ricard/Unsplash

According to law enforcement sources who talked to the New York Post, cartels tell potential border crossers that the Biden administration will grant them asylum after only one appointment. Their goal is to profit from these people who they hope to charge for the service of smuggling them into the country.

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Gun Smuggling Will Be Difficult To Curb Thanks to the Second Amendment

While the Mexican government’s efforts to go after big gun manufacturers will certainly make it harder for guns to be smuggled into their country, it won’t solve the problem. The gun laws differ greatly between countries.

A pistol surrounded by bullets and laying on a black cloth.

Tom Def/Unsplash

Americans’ second amendment right to bear arms will ensure that guns are readily accessible and numerous throughout the country.

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How Easy Is It To Get Guns in America?

Buying a gun in America varies by state and area, but it is generally a very easy process.

A gun sitting on a stump.

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Any American citizen can purchase a firearm from a federally licensed dealer as long as they  meet age and background requirements. Typically one has to be 18 to purchase a firearm for themselves, though depending on the weapon, the age limit might be as high as 21.

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Proposals to Make Gun Purchases More Strict

In 2023, President Joe Biden used his executive authority to create orders that strengthened the number of background checks required for firearm purchases to be legitimate. (via The White House

A jar on a table filled with bullets.

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One of the stated goals of these executive orders was to keep guns out of potentially dangerous hands. Biden did everything in his power to move the country to universal background checks without the lengthy process of going through congress. 

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How Do Mexican Citizens Feel About Guns?

Despite the ability for Mexican citizens to legally buy a gun, CBS reported that few Mexicans actually own one. One reason for this is that Mexico notoriously had only one gun store, and its controlled by the army.

A protestor wearing a Mexican flag on his back.

Diego Lozano/Unsplash

Someone has to enter an army base full of soldiers and give up all electronics to enter. Prospective buyers must also undergo a metal detector scan and cannot examine the guns themselves. All the guns they can purchase are locked behind glass cases.

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Mexico's Restrictions Fuel a Black Market

Since buying a gun in Mexico is so complicated and difficult for the average person, it’s no wonder that a black market has sprung up to meet the demand for illegal guns. 

A dimly lit tunnel in a city street at night.

Sam Moghadam Khamseh/Unsplash

The Harvard Gazette reported in 2022 that between 70 to 90 percent of guns found at Mexican crime scenes can be traced back to the United States. Most of them seem to have come from the states of Texas or Arizona.

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Alejandro Celorio Alcántara's Comments

The Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alejandro Celorio Alcántara commented on the rationale behind the lawsuits in 2022.

The official flag of Mexico blowing in the wind.

Jorge Aguilar/Unsplash

“We decided to go to the source of the problem. Like if this were a toxic river, in addition to cleaning the river, we need to go to the source and stop the toxic waste from being dumped at the river,” he said.

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Hispanic Communities Struggling with Firearm Suicide

A 2023 journal article published in Health Affairs Scholar noted an increase in the number of Hispanics who became victims of firearm suicides. According to the article, gun suicides increased by 26.7% among Hispanics between 2015 and 2022. 

A revolver-style pistol sitting on a table.

Dusty Barnes/Unsplash

The article goes on to point out that although firearm suicides are rising, it is following a negative trend where the Hispanics who committed suicide were receiving mental treatment at a lower rate than non-Hispanics.

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The Future of Gun Violence in Mexico

While this lawsuit win for the Mexican government is a cause for hope that things may be changing, there is still a lot of progress to be made. The lawsuit will likely pressure lawmakers across the United States to raise gun restrictions and strengthen gun laws.

A magazine filled with bullets.

Will Porada/Unsplash

Hope is an important thing to have when enacting change. It is a critical first step for people to see that efforts to fight the problem have made a tangible difference. This will hopefully inspire more concerned people to demand more from their governments on the issue.

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