And it will be difficult to show that companies that put Mexican icons on their guns were trying to appeal to cartel hit men, the experts said.
“It’s perfectly legal to have Mexican revolutionary heroes on your gun,” said Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA. “There’s no law that prohibits that.”
In Washington, the White House noted that President Biden has urged Congress to repeal the federal statute that shields gunmakers from lawsuits. “President Biden remains committed to Congressional repeal,” said Michael Gwin, a White House spokesman. “While that law remains on the books, gun manufacturers and distributors should be held accountable — to the extent legally possible — when they violate the law.”
American gun laws have clear links to the ebb and flow of violence in Mexico, experts say. When the U.S. assault weapons ban ended in 2004, the government noted in the suit, gun makers “exploited the opening to vastly increase production, particularly of the military-style assault weapons favored by the drug cartels.”
Soon after, killings in Mexico began to rise, reaching record levels in 2018, when more than 36,000 people were murdered across the country.
The Mexican government is being represented by lawyers from Hilliard Shadowen, a Texas law firm specializing in class-action lawsuits, and by Jonathan Lowy, chief counsel for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the gun control organization.
The suit was filed the day after Mr. Ebrard, the foreign minister, attended a ceremony commemorating the two-year anniversary of the mass shooting in an El Paso, Texas, Walmart store that killed 23 people, including several Mexican citizens.