The Mexican government recently filed a federal lawsuit against several firearms manufacturers in the United States that sought to hold those companies liable for the gun-related deaths and violence caused by criminals and drug cartels in Mexico with American-made guns.
A federal judge in Massachusetts, however, dismissed that lawsuit last week based in part on federal statutory protections for the firearms industry, Fox News reported.
That statute is the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which was passed by a bipartisan majority of Congress in 2005 and is specifically intended to prevent civil lawsuits that seek to hold firearms manufacturers liable for the criminal misuse of their products, which would be akin to lawsuits against automobile manufacturers for the damage and death caused by drunk drivers.
Anti-gun lawsuit dismissed
According to The Reload, the Mexican government took aim at seven firearms manufacturers — including Colt, Glock, Ruger, Smith & Wesson, and others — and one firearms distributor. It accused them of deliberately and willfully marketing their products in a manner that appealed to criminals and cartels as well as knowingly contributing to weapons trafficking that undermined Mexico’s strict gun control laws.
The lawsuit demanded $10 billion in compensation from the firearms companies to cover the myriad costs incurred by the Mexican government as a result of its problems with gun violence that it asserts is due almost solely to the prevalence of American-made guns that have been illegally trafficked into that country.
Yet, “Unfortunately for the government of Mexico, all of its claims are either barred by federal law or fail for other reasons,” U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor of Boston, Massachusetts wrote in his 44-page ruling.
“The PLCAA unequivocally bars lawsuits seeking to hold gun manufacturers responsible for the acts of individuals using guns for their intended purpose. And while the statute contains several narrow exceptions, none are applicable here,” the judge continued.
“This Court does not have the authority to ignore an act of Congress. Nor is its proper role to devise stratagems to avoid statutory commands, even where the allegations of the complaint may evoke a sympathetic response,” Saylor added. “And while the Court has considerable sympathy for the people of Mexico, and none whatsoever for those who traffic guns to Mexican criminal organizations, it is duty-bound to follow the law.”
Firearms industry pleased
In response to Judge Saylor’s ruling, Larry Keane, the senior vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the predominate trade group of the firearms industry, issued a celebratory statement about the court’s determination.
“We are pleased the court dismissed Mexico’s misguided and baseless lawsuit against members of the firearms industry that sought to blame them for Mexico’s unwillingness and inability to bring Mexican drug cartels to justice in Mexican courtrooms,” Keane told The Reload. “The crime that is devastating the people of Mexico is not the fault of members of the firearm industry, that under U.S. law, can only sell their lawful products to Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights after passing a background check.”
According to Fox News, the Mexican government intends to appeal the district court’s dismissal of its lawsuit.
However, Judge Saylor’s ruling very clearly laid out multiple reasons for why the suit must be dismissed, so unless and until the PLCAA is substantially amended or repealed — which is a top priority of many anti-Second Amendment Democrats — the Mexican government will likely find the same result in the higher courts.