Mexico gets a boost in its legal battle against US arms manufacturers
TEHRAN – Just as the US economy benefits from its flow of arms to Yemen or the Occupied Palestinian Territories where civilian deaths are increasing day by day, the same can be said for Latin America.
Mexico has won support from more than a dozen U.S. states as well as Latin American and Caribbean countries that have backed a lawsuit accusing several major U.S. arms makers of facilitating arms trafficking across the border to extremely dangerous drug cartels, leading to thousands of murders.
Thirteen states and the countries of Antigua and Barbuda and Belize have filed separate briefs urging a federal judge in Boston not to dismiss Mexico’s $10 billion lawsuit against gun companies including Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co.
The companies argue that the US law, “the Lawful Arms Trade Protection Act,” protects gun manufacturers from lawsuits for the misuse of their manufactured firearms.
But Mexican lawyers have hit back, saying the law only prohibits lawsuits for victims who occur in the United States and would not protect companies from trafficking arms to Mexican criminals.
Democratic attorneys general from 13 states, including Massachusetts, California and New York, as well as the District of Columbia have agreed.
In August, Mexico accused US companies of undermining its country’s tough gun laws by designing, marketing and distributing military-style assault weapons in ways they knew would arm cartels with drugs fueling murder, extortion and kidnapping.
Drug cartels literally waged war in the country and Washington did very little to stop the flow of these dangerous and deadly goods across the border.
The gun industry is not only large-scale in America, but also a lucrative industry, with support from Congress and analysts say it is being used in many sinister ways.
Critics say Washington relies on a “war-driven economy” in which countries around the world fight economically against endless wars unleashed from the United States, whether the conflicts are minor or major, in which there is a booming economy in America surviving wave after wave of depressions and disasters.
It is clear what are the effects of illegal American weapons brought into Mexico each year from the United States and falling into the hands of criminals on the country.
Funds allocated to security forces to prevent smuggling weigh heavily on the Mexican economy.
Mexico claims that more than half a million firearms are trafficked from the United States to Mexico each year, more than 68% of which are made by the manufacturers it is suing.
The country says the companies’ reckless practices are supplying what it describes as a “torrent” of illegal US weapons to violent Mexican drug cartels, resulting in thousands of deaths.
According to the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, weapons made in the United States accounted for the largest number of weapons ever seized by Mexican authorities over the years.
In 2021, an estimated 33,000 to 35,000 homicides took place in Mexico. From 2018 to 2020, there have been over 36,000 murders in Mexico each year.
The number of weapons that have been smuggled into the country is difficult to say.
That’s when more than 3.9 million crimes are committed in Mexico each year by criminals using US-made weapons, 70% of which can be traced to America, according to the ministry.
Meanwhile, lawyers from Antigua and Barbuda as well as Belize say countries in their region are also facing violent gun crime due to U.S. arms manufacturers and distributors. one country) “must not be allowed to hold law-abiding citizens hostage”. citizens of an entire region of the world.
Antigua and Barbuda and Belize are sovereign states in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region.
The Latin American and Caribbean Network for Human Security (SEHLAC), which coordinates a network of non-governmental organizations working to disarm the LAC region and the world, has also argued that a significant part of the violence in the region was unlawfully perpetrated with firearms. trafficked from the United States.
He says that the illegal trafficking of American firearms must be reduced to its source: “the American firearms industry”.
SEHLAC has members in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru and works with other NGOs across the region including Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, in Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay and Uruguay.
It says LAC countries “have diligently pursued an end to this illegal firearms trade, but these measures have not proven capable of stemming the tide.”
SEHLAC submitted a brief advising the same court that, although Mexico is the only plaintiff, the business practices of firearms manufacturers have also harmed and continue to harm many other countries.
Armed violence is one of the most pressing public health crises facing the LAC region today. The region experiences a disproportionate share of violent crime.
It accounts for 8% of the world’s population but 37% of homicides worldwide.
US arms manufacturers are a major source and, for some LAC countries, the most significant source of illegal firearms.
The Americas suffer 17.2 intentional homicide deaths per 100,000 population each year, nearly three times the global average.
And the World Health Organization calls the violence “endemic” across the region.
This violent crime crisis is forcing many migrants in Latin America where violent drug cartels operate to migrate elsewhere due to US arms smuggling.
Critics say homicide deaths in the region began to decline in the early 2000s when the U.S. federal government banned assault weapons, but after the ban was lifted, all those gains were lost.
The main cause of this abnormally high rate of violence in the LAC region is the easy access to illegal firearms.
As the United Nations has clearly pointed out, “the availability of firearms is linked to the homicide rate: an increase in the rate of firearm ownership in a country is often accompanied by an increase in the rate of ‘homicide’.
The availability of firearms is particularly closely linked to “gang or organized crime related homicides”, which are unfortunately common in the LAC region8.
It is therefore not surprising that firearms are the cause of the vast majority of homicides in Latin America, with nearly four out of five murders being firearm-related.
In contrast, in other parts of the world, firearms are used to commit less than half of all homicides.
The playbook for arms trafficking from America to the LAC region is widely considered well known. Many firearms are purchased at gun shows and other secondary sources, requiring fewer identity and criminal background checks on a person.
Manufacturers and distributors like the US gun makers supply guns to these sites, even though they know many will end up in the hands of violent and ruthless criminal gangs.
In addition, traffickers purchase many guns from traditional gun smugglers. They usually recruit “straw buyers”, people who can execute the necessary paperwork and pass background checks on unreliable and potentially dangerous customers.
Nevertheless, US arms manufacturers continue to supply these arms dealers without interference from Washington DC.
While Latin America and the Caribbean suffer from US-made weapons, the United States thrives.
As is the case, on a much larger scale, with conflicts around the world, particularly in the West Asian region; the fingerprints of these ongoing conflicts can be traced back to the United States.