A baker’s dozen of attorneys general from blue states and Washington D.C. this week signed on to support the Mexican government in a federal lawsuit against iconic U.S. gun brands.

The 26-page brief, submitted by the attorneys general of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Oregon, as well as the District of Columbia, supports a controversial $10 billion lawsuit brought by Mexico against some of the biggest names in guns including Barrett, Beretta, Century Arms, Colt, Glock, Ruger, and Smith & Wesson. 

For their part, Mexico argues the American-based gun makers are somehow partially to blame for the enduring wave of violence seen in the narco wars that have spread across that Latin American country in the 15 years-- even though the Mexican military controls the only legal gun store in the country.

The American states now backing Mexico in the litigation are making the argument that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA, does not shield gun manufacturers and dealers from consumer laws governing the marketing and sale of firearms, in an apparent effort to help the suit gain steam. 

"As we continue our work to hold firearm makers accountable here in California, we have to ensure both state and federal laws are being interpreted properly and these companies are not able to operate with impunity," said California Attorney General Rob Bonta on the move to support Mexico's lawsuit. 

Some of the firearms companies involved have moved to dismiss the suit, arguing the case is thin, holding that the Mexican government "does not allege that the criminals in Mexico used, received, or purchased the firearms" legally in the U.S. 

Further, while Mexican authorities contend some 200,000 guns were illegally trafficked across the border with the U.S. in recent years-- some with the scandalous help of the ATF-- it should be noted the Swiss-based Small Arms Survey has in the past detailed that the lion's share of guns recovered from cartels in Mexico are likely "acquired from the Mexican military and police, poorly controlled government stockpiles in Central and South America, and the international arms market."

The Swiss group estimated there were upwards of 10 million unregistered guns in private hands in the country and that contentions that most of the illegal guns in Mexico came from U.S. sources are likely off the mark. "While not inconceivable, there is insufficient publicly available, empirical evidence to support these claims," says the group. 


Gun Industry Reaction 


"These allegations are baseless. The Mexican government is responsible for the rampant crime and corruption within their own borders,” said Lawrence G. Keane, the National Shooting Sports Foundation's Senior Vice President and General Counsel on the lawsuit. “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," said Keane.

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