Debunking the NY Times Mexican lawsuit story and its anti-gun narrative

From the Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project

by Lee Williams

The New York Times has seized upon a lawsuit filed by the Mexican government against six American firearms manufacturers — which even the newspaper’s own experts admit is frivolous — as if it’s a holy writ, in order to add their political support to the Biden-Harris Administration’s calls for increased gun control.

Using cherry-picked data taken out of context from a report from the Government Accountability Office, the Times reporters boldly state that “70 percent of the firearms submitted for tracing in Mexico between 2014 and 2018 originated in the United States.” However, that is not what the data says. That’s not the whole picture. It’s the submitted for tracing part that’s misleading — misleading in a big way.

According to the GAO report, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) did find that 70 percent of the firearms seized in Mexico from 2014 to 2018 and submitted to ATF for tracing were manufactured in the United States, but the GAO report points out that “ATF does not receive complete data about thousands of firearms, such as those recovered by Mexican states, because only Mexico’s federal Attorney General’s office submits trace requests to ATF.”

That last part never made it into the Times’ story. Why? Because it doesn’t fit their false anti-gun narrative that American-made firearms are flooding into Mexico.

In their response to the story, the National Shooting Sports Foundation pointed out that less than 12 percent of the 30,000 firearms seized in Mexico during 2008 were of U.S. origin.

The NSSF also noted that the actual number of American guns is even lower than 12 percent.

“The ATF has noted that more than 20 percent of the firearms submitted for tracing are duplicates. With such errors distorting the statistics it is clear that even fewer than 12 percent of these firearms originated in the U.S. And of the small number that did come from the U.S., many did not come from retail firearm sales,”

Again, this fact was omitted from the Times’ story.

What wasn’t left out of the story was a slam of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) – a 2005 law that protects gun makers from frivolous lawsuits such as this one – which the Biden-Harris Administration has specifically targeted for repeal.

“Legal experts questioned the lawsuit’s ultimate chances, given that U.S. federal law guarantees gun manufacturers a strong shield against being sued by victims of gun violence and their relatives,” the Times reported. “But some said the lawsuit could lend political support to the strengthening of gun regulations in the United States, which are among the loosest in the hemisphere.”

Questionable appeal

Using the lawsuit to buttress their biased narrative, the Times claimed American gun makers “knowingly facilitate the sale of arms to criminal groups in Mexico by marketing their wares in ways that appeal to drug traffickers.”

They cite as an example a Colt “Emiliano Zapata” limited edition 1911 in .38 Super, which they say was used by a Sinaloa cartel leader to murder a Mexican journalist in 2017.

I find this claim somewhat racist, and while I have not spoken to Colt’s marketing department or their distributor, I am fairly certain the Emiliano Zapata commemorative 1911 was not marketed toward cartel leaders, but rather to history buffs, 1911 collectors, .38 Super collectors and other people who just like a good gun.

Besides, Colt has produced hundreds of collectable firearms that commemorate John Wayne, NRA’s Centennial, the WWI battle of Meuse-Argonne, the Golden Spike, John Browning, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the USS Arizona, the OSS, Colt’s Sesquicentennial, the Pony Express, the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War, the USMC, Texas Rangers, the US Cavalry and the Age of Flight.

If some Mexican narcotrafficante now uses a Colt “John Wayne” Commemorative 1911 in a murder, that’s on him. It certainly shouldn’t reflect poorly on Colt or the Duke.

“Even if it’s carless, they’re not liable,” Tim Lytton, a law professor at Georgia State University, told the New York Times.

Who’s really at fault?

To be clear, the blame for the thousands of lost lives in Mexico should be placed squarely on the corrupt and feeble Mexican government and the powerful drug cartels, not American gun makers. Besides, the cartels are also using AKs, RPGs, RPKs, Uzis, FALs, AUGs, Tavors and a host of other foreign military weapons, which they smuggle into the country or steal from Mexican law enforcement. These are not coming from the United States, nor were they ever submitted for tracing by ATF.

The NSSF agrees.

“The Mexican government is responsible for the rampant crime and corruption within their own orders,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President and General Counsel, said in a press release. “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.”

Brady involvement

The lawsuit Mexico v. Smith and Wesson, was filed in federal court in Massachusetts on behalf of the Mexican government by the Texas law firm of Hilliard Shadowen, which specializes in class-action lawsuits, and by Jonathan Lowy, who is chief counsel for the Brady Center, one of the country’s leading gun-control groups.

Brady’s involvement should tell you the goal is not to win the lawsuit, but to milk it for free publicity – such as a story in the country’s largest newspaper – to further Brady’s goal of total civilian disarmament.

The lawsuit doesn’t state how much money the Mexican government is seeking, but the Times story says the Mexican Foreign Ministry estimates there could be “$10 billion in potential damages.”

The real gunrunners

If the Mexican government is looking to go after those responsible for flooding their country with American firearms, they should look no further than the ATF and its “Operation Fast and Furious.”

Between 2006 and 2011, the ATF allowed more than 2,000 firearms to be smuggled across the border into Mexico. Only 700 were ever recovered.

The goal of ATF’s flawed operation was to target Mexican drug cartels, but it failed miserably. Instead, the guns were used by hardcore criminals on both sides of the border.

In December 2010, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed with of the firearms the ATF allowed to walk across the border. In addition to Terry, more than 150 Mexican civilians have been murdered with ATF’s guns.

The Mexican government should take another look at this bloody debacle. They’ll see it isn’t American firearms manufacturers who are arming the drug cartels with advanced weapons. The ATF already took care of that.

The Second Amendment Foundation’s Investigative Journalism Project wouldn’t be possible without you. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to support pro-gun stories like this.

Share The Gun Writer