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Can Mexican Lawsuit Halt Damage From U.S. Guns South Of Border?

As a legal adviser in Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lejandro Celorio Alcantara led a team of lawyers in filing a historic lawsuit in August, accusing some of the U.S.'s most well-known gun companies of lethal negligence on a mass scale, the Intercept reports. Seeking $10 billion in damages from a decade and a half of shootouts and killings, the unprecedented litigation aimed to succeed where gun violence victims north of the border are almost guaranteed to fail, asking a Massachusetts federal court to hold 10 U.S.-based companies accountable for their products’ impact abroad. The litigation tests whether legal protections in the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) which President Biden urged Congress to repeal in his national strategy to prevent gun violence this year, extends to foreign countries. In the past decade and a half, Mexico has weathered its worst period of violence since its revolution more than a century ago, with more than 400,000 people killed and paramilitary-style criminal groups building U.S.-sourced weapons arsenals.

Researchers found that between 70 to 90 percent of all guns recovered at crime scenes in Mexico are U.S.-made, with firearms produced by six manufacturers — Smith & Wesson, Beretta, Century Arms, Colt, Glock, and Ruger — turning up most often. Given the enormous power of the U.S. gun lobby and the protections in law granted to gun companies, it’s doubtful that the Mexican government’s legal challenge will bring about official change. “They sell the guns to the police forces and security forces and then they allow their guns to illegally supply those organized crime groups that security forces then fight against,” said Prof. Leva Jusionyte of Brown University. “So it’s a big win for gunmakers.”


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