Jean Guerrero, Los Angeles Times
November 26, 2021
If it weren’t for U.S. gun companies supplying a steady stream of weapons for Mexico’s criminal organizations, my then-16-year-old cousin Diego might not have been kidnapped in 2015. His mother, Veronica Rosas Valenzuela, might not be sifting through sewage searching for him this month in El Gran Canal de Ecatepec.
Tens of thousands of people killed by American guns in Mexico could still be alive. Most of the kidnapped and missing could still be with their families. Mexico would be a radically different country, without the grief and rampant terror of gun violence.
With only one gun store in the country and fewer than 50 gun permits granted a year, Mexico has some of the strictest gun laws in the world. Between 70% and 90% of guns found at crime scenes in Mexico come from the U.S., including guns designed to appeal to the Mexican market such as a Colt .38-caliber pistol featuring an image of the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata and the phrase: “It is better to die standing than to live on your knees.”
Earlier this year, the Mexican government filed a lawsuit against several U.S. gun companies, accusing them of knowingly flooding the country with illicit firearms, which have brought horrific levels of bloodshed.
In a brief filed on Monday, the gun companies asked a federal judge in Boston to dismiss the lawsuit. The companies — Smith & Wesson, Glock, Ruger & Co and others — postured as the good guys, invoking stereotypes of Mexico as a lawless place. “At bottom, this case implicates a clash of national values,” their attorneys wrote. They characterized Mexico’s lawsuit as a threat to “America’s constitutional freedoms.”
Marcela Celorio, Mexico’s consul general in Los Angeles, said this lawsuit has nothing to do with the 2nd Amendment. “This is against the gun companies,” she told me. “We would like the federal courts to hold them accountable for all these negligent commercial practices that have actively facilitated unlawful trafficking of their guns into Mexico.”
Mexico is seeking billions of dollars in damages and demanding that the gun makers adopt new sales and marketing practices, including smart-gun technology to prevent unauthorized use. The complaint also mentions other anti-trafficking strategies such as hidden serial numbers, a ban on multiple simultaneous sales of assault weapons and cutting off supplies to dealers known to inundate the Mexican market. All of these ideas could be carried out readily.
The complaint describes in sickening detail the weapons that appeal to drug cartels: pistols such as Colt’s “El Jefe” (The Boss) and “El Grito” (The Scream), as well as Barrett’s .50-caliber sniper rifle marketed as “battle proven” — used to shoot down helicopters and penetrate armored vehicles in Mexico. “They are trying to accommodate these guns for the Mexican market,” Celorio said.
Photo: Associated Press. Handguns are displayed at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas in January 2016.