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The lawsuit over drug cartel violence could be part of a bigger change on guns.

Ioan Grillo, Foreign Policy
August 12, 2021

Researching a book on gun trafficking, I asked an export broker in the legal part of the arms trade if he was concerned that his assault rifles could end up in the hands of murderers. He said he wasn’t worried about getting in trouble; his sales, he assured me, followed national and international laws. I asked again: Even if he wasn’t nervous about legal consequences, was he bothered ethically if his weapons ended up on the wrong trigger fingers? He was silent for a moment before answering with a confident “no.”

I’ll give him credit for his honesty. But this same attitude, perhaps expressed with less vehemence, can be found among many in the weapons industry. The argument is that if producers, importers, and sellers obey the law, then it is not their responsibility what is ultimately done with their pistols, rifles, or bullets.

This concept, however, has just been challenged by an unprecedented lawsuit filed by the Mexican government on Aug. 4 in a U.S. federal court in Massachusetts. The complaint names key companies in the U.S. firearms industry and argues they are complicit in a vast iron river of guns flowing over the southern U.S. border and wielded by Mexican cartel gunmen to commit mass murder there. The companies, the lawsuit argues, deliberately marketed and distributed their products to meet the gangsters’ preferences for certain types and specifications of guns.

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