Firearms Industry Blasts Brady-Backed Lawsuit Brought By Mexican Government

AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

In case you missed it, Thursday evening we updated our original story about the $10-billion civil lawsuit filed by the Mexican government against several major U.S. gun makers to include the fact that the legal counsel for the gun control group Brady is one of the attorneys working on the Mexican government’s side. The Mexican foreign ministry has denied that the lawsuit is intended in any way to change U.S. gun laws, but Brady’s involvement demonstrates that, whatever the motivation of the Mexican government, American gun control activists are eager to use the lawsuit to impose new restrictions on gun owners and gun makers alike.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is the firearms industry trade group, has issued a scathing response to the lawsuit, calling the claims that the gun makers knowingly allow their products to be trafficked into Mexico and the hands of drug cartels “baseless” and “patently false.”

“These allegations are baseless. The Mexican government is responsible for the rampant crime and corruption within their own borders,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel. “Mexico’s criminal activity is a direct result of the illicit drug trade, human trafficking and organized crime cartels that plague Mexico’s citizens. It is these cartels that criminally misuse firearms illegally imported into Mexico or stolen from the Mexican military and law enforcement. Rather than seeking to scapegoat law-abiding American businesses, Mexican authorities must focus their efforts on bringing the cartels to justice. The Mexican government, which receives considerable aid from U.S. taxpayers, is solely responsible for enforcing its laws – including the country’s strict gun control laws – within their own borders.

“The American people through their elected officials decide the laws governing the lawful commerce in firearms in our country,” Keane added. “This lawsuit filed by an American gun control group representing Mexico is an affront to U.S. sovereignty and a threat to the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans to keep and bear arms. A right denied to the Mexican people who are unable to defend themselves from the cartels.”

As Keane points out, while gun control activists and the Mexican government claim that 90% of firearms recovered in Mexico have U.S. origins, that number actually refers to the percentage of firearms that were traced, not seized. In fact, the vast majority of guns that are seized south of the border are never submitted to the ATF for tracing at all. In 2008, of 30,000 firearms seized in Mexico, just 7,200 were submitted for tracing, and only 3,480 were traced back to the U.S.

Keane also notes several other fundamental flaws in Brady/Mexico argument.

Furthermore, of those firearms successfully traced, on average they were sold at retail 14 years earlier and following an FBI background check. This dispels the notion often repeated by the press that there is a flood of recently purchased firearms heading into Mexico from the United States.

The U.S. government also sells firearms directly to the Mexican government. Mexican soldiers continue to defect to work for the drug cartels, taking their American-made service rifles with them. In recent years the number of defections has soared to more than 150,000. According to U.S. State Department cables, the most lethal weapons used by Mexican cartels come from Central American arsenals. Additionally, according to a 2006 report by Amnesty International, China was actively supplying arms to Latin American countries, which have subsequently been seized in Mexico.

Don’t expect Brady to push for Mexico to sue China or any Central American country for fueling cartel violence. Their target is solely the U.S. firearms industry, and the lawsuit filed in federal court in Boston this week is merely the most audacious attempt in a decades-long quest to sue the gun industry into oblivion by trying to hold it responsible for the acts of violent criminals. The gun control lobby has largely been thwarted in their previous efforts, even before the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was approved by a bipartisan majority in Congress back in 2005, and this case too should be swiftly consigned to the dustbin of history by the Boston judge handling the new lawsuit.