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Exporting Mayhem: Suing Gun Manufacturers in the US to Stop Violence in Mexico

February 17th @ 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm

Event Description

In 2021, the Mexican government filed a ground-breaking suit in federal court in Boston, Massachusetts, against ten US gun manufacturers, accusing them of knowingly facilitating the sale of guns to drug cartels in Mexico. This is the first time that a foreign government has sued the makers of guns in the United States. For many in the US, the narrative of cartel violence in Mexico may point to lawlessness and ineffective oversight. But there is another story; over the last 15 years, homicides have tripled in Mexico and as many as 90% of the guns used in drug-related violence come from the United States. While gun laws in Mexico are extremely restrictive, cartels find it easy to purchase them in a border state, such as Texas or Arizona, and then smuggle those guns across the border. The suit makes a combination of novel arguments regarding the targeted marketing of guns to cartels, the lack of effective regulation regarding gun sales, and the applicability of federal legislation to a foreign government. This panel will combine discussion of the nature of public health crises created by gun violence in both the United States and Mexico; the legal rules regarding gun ownership and regulation; and the arguments being advanced in the specific litigation.


  • Welcome: Carmel Shachar, Executive Director, Petrie-Flom Center
  • Introduction: Alicia Ely Yamin, Senior Fellow in Global Health and Rights, The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School
  • Opening remarks: Alejandro Celorio Alcántara, Legal Adviser/ Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Mexico
  • David Pérez Esparza, Director, National Center for Information, National System of Public Security, Government of Mexico
  • Heidi Li FeldmanProfessor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center and Director, Joint Degree in Law and Philosophy, Georgetown Law
  • Daivd Hemenway, Professor of Health Policy, Director, Harvard Injury Control Research Center, Harvard University
  • Steve Shadowen, Founding Partner, Hilliard & Shadowen LLP

Sponsored by the Global Health and Rights Project (GHRP), a collaboration between the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School and the Global Health Education and Learning Incubator (GHELI) at Harvard University, the Mexico program at the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) at Harvard University, and the Consulate General of Mexico in Boston.


Date: February 17th
Time: 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Calendars: Public Events, University-wide Events