Unlike its northern neighbour, Mexico has some of the strictest gun laws in the world, says Natalie Kitroeff in a podcast for The Daily. There’s only one gun shop in the entire country. That hasn’t stopped violent drug cartels getting their hands on weapons and contributing to Mexico’s “horror show of violence” – more than 16,000 murders so far this year. The government claims that about 90% of the guns it recovers originate in the US. It’s now suing 10 American gunmakers in a Massachusetts court for a reported £7.2bn, and says it’s willing to go to the US Supreme Court if necessary.
A US ban on assault-style weapons expired in 2004, around the same time that Mexican cartels, facing an “all-out” government crackdown, needed to arm themselves. So the criminals got “straw buyers” in border states such as Texas and Arizona to purchase the guns and smuggle them south. Attempts by the Obama administration to stem the flow proved useless. Mexico says gunmakers are marketing their weapons to the cartels – one American pistol it found was engraved with the face of Mexican revolutionary hero Emiliano Zapata. The case is a legal “long shot”, but it shows US gun laws are far more than a domestic issue.