EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The government of Mexico says it will appeal a Massachusetts federal district judge’s decision to toss out a $10 billion lawsuit against American gun manufacturers.
Mexico sued Smith-Wesson, Barrett Firearms, Colt and others in 2021, alleging negligence in the sale of firearms that end up in the hands of criminal organizations south of the border and result in the violent deaths of tens of thousands of Mexican citizens every year.
Mexico has a single gun factory run by the army and issues fewer than 50 gun permits per year, according to the suit. The Mexican government alleged in U.S. federal district court in Massachusetts that a steady increase in homicides involving firearms in Mexico – from 2,500 in 2003 to 23,000 in 2019 – coincides with the United States lifting restrictions on the sale of automatic guns. Further, more than 3.9 million crimes committed in Mexico in 2019 alone involved the use of a U.S.-manufactured gun.
But on Friday, U.S. District Chief Judge F. Dennis Saylor, IV, ruled that the U.S. Constitution protects gun sales and closed the case.
“Unfortunately for the government of Mexico, all of its claims are either barred by federal law or fail for other reasons. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act 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,” Saylor wrote.
The Mexican Foreign Ministry issued a statement insisting it will hold gun makers accountable for the mayhem their products are creating south of the border.
“The Government of Mexico will appeal the judge’s decision and will continue to insist that the gun trade must be responsible, transparent and accountable, and that the negligent manner in which they sell guns in the United States makes it easier for criminals to have access to them,” the Ministry said.
The judge, in his ruling, appeared to be sympathetic to Mexico’s struggle with acts of violence by organized criminal organizations who introduce guns and migrants into the United States and ferry guns back home.
“The direct causes of that increase are, of course, the decisions of individual actors in Mexico to commit violent crimes,” Saylor wrote. “The indirect causes are no doubt many, but surely a substantial portion of the blame rests with American citizens. The rise of Mexican criminal organizations has been fueled by the unrelenting demand of Americans for illegal drugs, and those same organizations now play an ever-increasing role in the smuggling of illegal migrants across the border.”
But U.S. gun laws are clear, he said.
“This court does not have the authority to ignore an act of Congress, nor is its proper role to devise stratagems to avoid (statutes),” Saylor wrote. “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.”
The Mexican Foreign Ministry said its lawsuit brought international awareness to illicit weapons smuggling and pushed forward the debate on how gun makers must take responsibility for the violence south of the border. Mexico said several countries have expressed support for the lawsuit.