Mexico City, Mexico – As a spate of gun violence, including the elementary school mass killing in Uvalde, Texas, continues to unfold in the United States, the Mexican government has not missed the opportunity to talk up the historic lawsuit it brought one year ago in the Massachusetts District Court against 10 US gun manufacturers and distributors.
The lawsuit, Mexico vs Smith & Wesson et al, seeks damages from the companies for negligence leading to Mexico’s shocking rate of gun homicides and other gun violence, which is largely attributable to guns sold in the US and trafficked over the border. The government estimates the damage to be approximately $10bn.
A substantial claim in Mexico’s complaint is that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which prevents US gun companies from being sued, does not apply in Mexico.
“Crucially, Mexico attacks PLCCA in its lawsuit, claiming it does not give immunity to the defendants [to Smith & Wesson et al]”, León Castellanos-Jankiewicz, a Mexican international human rights law scholar and observer of the Mexico lawsuit, told Al Jazeera.
Shortly after the Uvalde shooting, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said it demonstrated “clear negligence on the part” of the gun industry in the US, as yet another case in which “a young man [can be] sold an assault weapon at the age of 18.”
In his comments, Ebrard linked the Uvalde tragedy to Mexico’s lawsuit, which currently awaits a judicial decision on a request by the gun companies to dismiss it, on the basis of PLCAA.
At a recent news conference in Mexico Ebrard also said that, just as the US issues travel alerts for Mexico on account of violence, Mexico will “create arms trafficking alerts” for travel to the US. According to the national daily El Financiero, the Minister said that lowering the number of weapons in “both countries” was a joint effort, saying he believed US President Biden supported greater arms control.
To be sure, the US House of Representatives recently passed a Biden-backed bill to ban assault weapons that is currently awaiting Senate debate.