Mexico Turns to ‘Lawfare’ to Tackle Its U.S. Gun Problem

Mexico Turns to ‘Lawfare’ to Tackle Its U.S. Gun Problem
A woman visits an art exhibit highlighting the impact of arms trafficking from the U.S. to Latin America, in Mexico City, Mexico, April 2, 2012 (AP photo by Alexandre Meneghini).

It is no secret that the gun industry has found a giant, permissive and profitable market in the United States. Gunmakers from around the world can sell their wares in a country where, despite an epidemic of killings by firearms, they face few meaningful constraints from the law—and, in fact, enjoy key protections. But now Mexico, where arms trafficked from the U.S. are a major contributor to violence, is taking on that powerful business.

Could Mexico succeed where U.S. gun control advocates have failed?

Last week, the Mexican government filed the second of two civil lawsuits against the firearms business in the United States, this one going after a handful of gun shops and distributors, claiming they knowingly and deliberately violate U.S. law. The litigation is being directed from the highest levels of Mexico’s government. Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard explained, “It is obvious that there is weapons trafficking, and that it is known that these guns are going to our country.” In essence Mexico is arguing that the gun shops are part of an organized criminal enterprise.

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