On Monday, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled that the country of Mexico can proceed with a lawsuit naming several U.S.-based gun manufacturers, blaming them for supplying firearms used in cartel violence. In the suit, Mexico claims that the gun manufacturers were aware that their products were ending up in the hands of the cartels but did nothing to stop it.
Mexico filed the lawsuit in August 2021, alleging the defendants – among them brands including Smith & Wesson, Colt and Glock – “design, market, distribute and sell guns in ways” that arm Mexican drug cartels, contributing significantly to a rise in gun violence within Mexico, despite strong regulations.
The complaint was dismissed by a US district court in September 2022, which ruled Mexico’s claims “were barred by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act,” according to the ruling published Monday by the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.
The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, 15 USC Ch. 105, citing the Second Amendment as the source of the legislation, states in part:
Businesses in the United States that are engaged in interstate and foreign commerce through the lawful design, manufacture, marketing, distribution, importation, or sale to the public of firearms or ammunition products that have been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce are not, and should not, be liable for the harm caused by those who criminally or unlawfully misuse firearm products or ammunition products that function as designed and intended.
It’s difficult to see how the lawsuit filed by Mexico is not a direct violation of the Act; it’s nigh impossible to see how American gun companies are marketing to Mexican cartels.
Mexico appealed, and the US Circuit Court ultimately disagreed with the lower court’s ruling. On Monday, a three-judge panel in Boston found “that Mexico’s complaint plausibly alleges a type of claim that is statutorily exempt from the PLCAA’s general prohibition.”
“We therefore reverse the district court’s holding that the PLCAA bars Mexico’s common law claims, and we remand for further proceedings.”
The government of Mexico said in a news release Monday it welcomed the ruling, adding the case would return to a lower court where the country will present evidence to “demonstrate the defendants’ negligence” and seek damages.
The Mexican government would do better to sue the Biden administration.
This decision will certainly be appealed. The Mexican government is seeking a ridiculous $10 billion in damages for the acts of their home-grown criminals within their borders; this is deflection, nothing but. The cartels are running rampant along the southern border and have established channels of illegal trade for everything from human trafficking to the drug trade; it’s perfectly ridiculous to suggest that American gun companies are somehow responsible for Mexico’s failure to deal with their own crime problems.
In their suit, Mexico claims that these companies design, manufacture, and market guns in ways that are attractive to cartels; this is specious, as any firearm, regardless of design, may be used in a crime. These American companies are producing products that are legal and which the American people have a constitutional right to possess and use. Mexico is not suing over product failures; they are suing over actions that are precisely described in the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, namely, for the harm caused by those who criminally or unlawfully misuse firearm products or ammunition products that function as designed and intended.
We will continue to monitor this case and will bring you updates as they occur.