Mexico might be a popular tourist destination, but it’s also overrun by criminals. The foreign country is well-known for its corruption, incredible murder rate, and notorious drug cartels. In fact, they’re so known for it, myriad movies and TV series about those very things have been made for years. Now, in a move that is both unsurprising given the current climate but also ludicrous considering the reality of their country, Mexico has filed a lawsuit against multiple U.S. gun manufacturers.
The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday, August 4, in Massachusetts. Interestingly, the legal team representing the Mexican government is comprised of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Hilliard Shadowen, a firm with offices in Austin and Corpus Christi, Texas, and Boston, Massachusetts. Although the Brady involvement comes as no surprise whatsoever it’s disappointing to see a firm headquartered in Texas involved in this, even if they are known as a rather liberal set of lawyers. I feel the need to apologize on behalf of the state of Texas.
Devil’s in the Lawsuit Details
Here’s the bad news.
The lawsuit names some big gun manufacturers including Ruger, Glock, Barrett, Smith and Wesson, and Beretta. It doesn’t specify just what they want for their perceived damages — and heaven knows this is all about their perceived injury, not reality — but their Foreign Ministry officials are making noises about at least 10 billion dollars.
Can they do this?
Well, yes…but no. The suit is already filed — thanks, Brady campaign and turncoat Texas lawyers — but whether or not it ends up being a win for Mexico is really anyone’s guess. The United States does have laws in place prohibiting people from suing manufacturers of things like guns and cars for the bad things done with those products by random bad guys. Of course, that’s a law being bucked by some judges lately.
Families of those murdered in Sandy Hook by an armed killer are being allowed to pursue a lawsuit against Remington, thanks to a federal judge. That particular case has gotten bad enough that Remington apparently gave in — shame on Big Green — and offered the families a 33 million dollar settlement. The families said no. They have their eyes on more money, although who knows where they think Remington will get it — and the case is moving forward.
In New York, a law was just signed in July 2021 that lets residents sue gun manufacturers. That law is just one in a string of reasons I’ve repeatedly said Remington should pull out of Ilion. Sure, they’re attached to the location because the company was founded there more than 200 years ago by Eliphalet Remington, but it seems past time to let go of that and move to a more gun-friendly place. If nothing else they could keep their museum in Ilion and take production elsewhere.
Back to the law that is supposed to protect firearms manufacturers from being sued by money-hungry people blaming the makers of inanimate objects for the actions of crazy murderers (try to remember that more people are killed with hammers and fists than with firearms and that any object can be a deadly weapon). That is the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005 (PLCAA). The act does not protect manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits revolving around product defects, breach of contract, or other actions, it only states they can’t be held liable for crimes committed using their products.
Some legal authorities say PLCAA doesn’t technically say foreign countries can’t sue gun manufacturers. Let’s be honest here, guys: even if the PLCAA specifically outlined that Mexico itself cannot sue U.S. gun manufacturers, it would still happen. We are living in an anti-gun climate like never before and it is fueled and encouraged by our politicians and those in positions of power. Are we screwed? Hard to say (no pun intended).
So, can Mexico do this? They already did. Can they win? Not necessarily. It will be quite a battle to win but here’s the thing: Mexico doesn’t really have to win this lawsuit, they just have to drain and bankrupt our major gun manufacturers with legal fees.
Mexico’s Crime Rate
Ah, Mexico. A haven of sunshine, safe travel, and fruity mixed drinks. The perfect place for a getaway — or not. That whole patina of murder, rape, and drugs kind of takes the shine off getting your tan south of the border.
I do love some good statistics, so here are a few that might interest you.
Mexico is a hotbed of crime, helped along by its political officials and enormously corrupt law enforcement. Good cops are run out of town, murdered, or bullied into submission by death threats to their loved ones. It’s the dirty ones that survive.
In 2019, Mexico averaged 29 murders per 100,000 people. Guess what the U.S. averaged? 5 per 100,000. We, the United States of America, with our (cue sarcasm) ridiculous numbers of lawful gun owners and rampant mass shootings — are by far the safer country. If we dropped the big crime areas, like Chicago, off the map we’d have an even lower murder rate. An armed society is a polite society, am I right?
The cartels in Mexico are notorious for the things they get away with like beheading their victims and murdering the clean members of law enforcement. I’m reasonably sure the beheadings and dismembered bodies required knives, not guns, but I suppose I could be mistaken.
As for travel in Mexico, the U.S. now has them listed at a level three, meaning it’d be really smart not to go there. This isn’t just due to COVID, it’s also due to the kidnappings, rapes, and murders. On the travel advisory page there’s a long list of places to avoid and things to do or not do, like:
Keep traveling companions and family back home informed of your travel plans. If separating from your travel group, send a friend your GPS location. If taking a taxi alone, take a photo of the taxi number and/or license plate and text it to a friend.
Use toll roads when possible and avoid driving alone or at night. In many states, police presence and emergency services are extremely limited outside the state capital or major cities.
Exercise increased caution when visiting local bars, nightclubs, and casinos.
Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.
Let me tell you, as a white girl with blonde hair and blue eyes, I can firmly state I won’t go to Mexico. Went once years ago and that was enough. This has nothing to do with racism and everything to do with not wanting to be harassed, raped, or murdered.
Can Mexican Citizens Own Guns?
This brings to mind that old meme…well yes, but no…once again. Technically Mexican citizens are allowed to own firearms under their constitution, although it was amended to separate “keep” and “bear” into two different things. If you want to get a gun through legal channels in Mexico, it takes some doing. We’re talking about a country with some incredibly restrictive gun control.
Guns are only sold through lawful methods in one location in the entire country in Mexico City. That location just happens to be on a military base that’s surrounded by the usual barriers like walls, barbed wire, armed soldiers, and probably a moat with rabid alligators. Oh, and the “store” is run by a Colonel who goes around saying guns are a privilege, not a right, and that it’s his job to make sure only certain people get their filthy hands on firearms.
In order to gain entry into this bastion of the firearms industry, you have to fill out around half a dozen forms and provide proof of things like a job alongside various permits and “if it pleases the crown” type papers. Then there are the months of background checks and red tape. If you actually get through all that, you can attempt to enter the base, spend hours in lines with more paperwork, and then take the gun they give you. There is no holding gun and trying it out — no real choice in the process.
But wait, it gets even better.
In Mexico, you’re really lucky because you can own one handgun, and it’s going to be chambered in a caliber no larger than 380 ACP.
That’s right, you, too, can go up against drug cartels armed with illegal machine guns with your little pea shooter. If it’s a revolver, you can get a 38 Special (but not if it’s rated for 357 Magnum, that’s a no-no). Handguns in 38 Super and 9mm are strictly verboten, as are all that are bigger than 380 ACP — which makes me want to buy even more of them even though I’m not really a huge fan (hey, I like 10mm, what can I say).
Mexican citizens can have up to 9 long guns, supposedly, but only in teensy, tiny calibers. Guns chambered in things like 223 Remington aren’t allowed. Now, you can get a 12 gauge, but only with a barrel under 25 inches.
Guns in Mexico have to stay in the owner’s house.
They don’t get to leave. In order to lawfully leave the house with a gun the owner has to obtain a special permit and those are even harder to get than the guns. The guns can’t even make a drive to a range or a hunt without a permit. So hey, I think the Ocellated turkeys in Mexico are freaking gorgeous, but you won’t see me hopping a flight to shoot one anytime soon. It isn’t impossible to book a hunt with an outfitter but…thanks, no thanks.
All guns in Mexico are registered with the government, right down to the tiniest detail.
In Mexico, lawfully obtained firearms are, largely, for only the privileged rich.
Tell me more about how Mexico is totally your fave vacay destination.
And, the Lawsuit Itself
The complaint filed is 139 pages long and full of such gems as trying to claim the companies in question know their guns are being stolen and trafficked illegally into Mexico. Yes, I can absolutely picture my favorite gun reps standing at the border passing off bags of Ruger Max9s and Glock 19s to the cartels like party favors.
From page 1 of the filing:
For decades the Government and its citizens have been victimized by a deadly flood of military-style and other particularly lethal guns that flows from the U.S. across the border, into criminal hands in Mexico. This flood is not a natural phenomenon or an inevitable consequence of the gun business or of U.S. gun laws. It is the foreseeable result of the Defendants’ deliberate actions and business practices.
From page 6 of the filing:
4. The Government has strong domestic laws that make it virtually impossible for criminals to lawfully obtain guns in Mexico. Mexico has one gun store in the entire nation and issues fewer than 50 gun permits per year.
Defendants undermine these stringent laws, and wreak havoc in Mexican society, by persistently supplying a torrent of guns to the drug cartels.
Defendants exacerbate their refusal to monitor and discipline their distribution systems by designing military-style assault weapons and marketing them in ways that attract and arm ruthless transnational criminal organizations like the drug cartels.
Then there’s this awesome addition on page 8:
The consequences in Mexico have been dire. In addition to causing the exponential growth in the homicide rate, Defendants’ conduct has had an overall destabilizing effect on Mexican society.
I could go through this filing all day and pull out statements that are laughable in nature. It’s unlikely Mexico truly believes our gun manufacturers are really responsible for their own corruption and propensity for violence. But like any good puppet, they’re playing alongside Brady, working to undermine the gun industry. And while I would like to laugh at this, I can’t. It’s no joke.
What’s Going to Happen?
In a perfect world, our court system would do its job and dismiss this as both a violation of PLCAA and a waste of time. You flat cannot blame inanimate objects for the actions of the evil person holding them. It is not the manufacturer’s fault that Mexico is such a cesspool of crime and that its politicians and leadership are so dirty that even Hell wouldn’t take them. But that doesn’t mean the Mexican government isn’t going to cause trouble.
We live in an age of entitlement and blame-shifting. It’s hard not to see Mexico as the narcissistic, victim-card-playing ex who rages that everything is your fault, not theirs. It’s your fault they act the way they do, lie, cheat, steal, kill, whatever. Taking responsibility for your actions seems to have become a thing of the past. Instead, we now blame everyone but ourselves and sue for damages, because we can.
I’m not surprised Brady is behind this or that Shadowen is grabbing for a chance at the limelight (speaking of which, is there any way we can run that firm out of our awesome Lone Star State, please?). And I fully expect this lawsuit to make progress through the lower rungs of our court system. It could take years, but odds are it’ll eventually reach the Supreme Court, and its outcome there is going to depend on whether or not the Democrats get their way and expand the court to seed it with their people.
Think your gun rights aren’t under attack? Believe this has nothing to do with you? Like spouting off about “wish a mother—-r would” on social media? Don’t be stupid. Start working to further Second Amendment rights in your community. Quit resting on your gunpowder-dusted laurels letting others do the work for you.
Do you want to be a one-gun-store-in-the-entire-country nation? Because letting this stuff happen is how you get a one-gun-store-in-the-entire-country nation.
Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.