USA

Mexico's lawsuit against gun makers faces a tough road

(CNN)Normally, when the headlines blare about flows across the US-Mexico border, they concern desperate migrants and refugees heading north. But Mexico has now turned the tables and is seeking to halt the torrent of firearms heading south from the gun-toting United States to criminal gangs.

The government is suing 11 manufacturers of firearms, alleging that they know their products are fueling vicious violence in Mexico but are doing too little to stop it. The suit also claims the firms are marketing their weapons to appeal to miscreants south of the border. "Defendants design these guns to be easily modified to fire automatically and to be readily transferable on the criminal market in Mexico," the suit says. The case, filed in Massachusetts, targets firms including Smith & Wesson, Barrett, Beretta USA, Glock, Century International Arms and Colt's Manufacturing Co.

The companies have not commented publicly, but the US trade association National Shooting Sports Foundation denied Mexico's allegations in a statement, saying: "The firearm industry trade association, rejects Mexico's allegations that U.S. firearm manufacturers participated in negligent business practices."

On average, more than 500 firearms from the US cross the southern border every day, according to the Mexican Foreign Ministry. They fuel raging violence in many parts of the country related to the drugs trade. Mexico just went through an extraordinarily bloody midterm election campaign that saw more than 30 candidates were gunned down by criminal gangs. Not surprisingly its government is perturbed at the impact of lax guns laws north of the border.

Given the broad protections inserted in US law to satisfy the gun lobby, the suit faces a tough road in the United States — not least because ultimately, the Supreme Court's conservative majority is likely to lean against tighter gun control.

But ironically, the tsunami of firearms heading south is helping to fuel the very crime, unrest and despondency that convinces thousands of migrants to try to make the perilous crossing into the United States in search of a better life. But that's not something you will hear from conservative leaders who endlessly charge President Joe Biden with failing to secure the border — who are generally the same politicians who resist almost any gun control.

A preview of moves to come?

Is this a preview of next year's midterm elections? Republican minority leader Mitch McConnell has high hopes of taking back the Senate. But just as he did last year, the Senate's Democratic majority leader Chuck Schumer thinks he can pip his rival at the post -- as he did when both men bore down on a podium for their weekly press conferences on Tuesday.

44 bars the door

The guest list for Barack Obama's 60th birthday bash just got even more exclusive.

The ex-President drastically scaled back a plan for more than 400 guests to attend his party on the millionaire's playground of Martha's Vineyard this weekend. His decision comes as the Delta variant of the coronavirus sweeps across the US, putting hard-won gains in the pandemic into reverse.

Obama, whose birthday was Wednesday, had planned the outdoor party in accordance with all US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention safeguards. Guests were reportedly expected to include talk show icon Oprah Winfrey and director Steven Spielberg, as well as alumni from Obama's White House. But the Obamas announced on Wednesday that the shindig at their 29-acre estate would now only include family and close friends, after drawing some criticism over the party — notably from the ex-President's old enemies in the conservative media.

Andy Slavitt, a former Obama administration public health official said his old boss made the right call. "(Obama's) providing a sense of caution," Slavitt told CNN. "A small gathering is OK, but gathering in large crowds is something he doesn't want to send people the wrong message for, and a lot of people do follow what President Obama does."

Makes sense. But imagine the disappointment for guests who thought they were in -- then suddenly learned they'd been cut from the 44th President's tightest circle.

'No place in a free society'

A federal DC judge on Wednesday ordered home confinement for a married couple who stormed the US Capitol carrying anti-vaccination signs: Jessica and Joshua Bustle pleaded guilty previously to roaming in the Capitol building for 20 minutes while carrying signs that said "Vaccine injury is the real pandemic," and "Mandatory medical procedures have no place in a free society." Jessica Bustle will now serve two months of home confinement, two months of probation and 40 hours of community service. Her husband received effectively the same sentence, except he will only serve one month of home confinement.

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