The Mexican Foreign Ministry has already said that it plans to appeal the decision.
A federal judge has dismissed the Mexican government’s $10 billion lawsuit against American gunmakers.
According to Reuters, the Friday ruling by Chief Judge F. Dennis Saylor in a Boston federal court represents a significant victory for firearms manufacturers including Smith & Wesson Brands Inc., Sturm, Ruger & Co, and others.
In its complaint, Mexico alleged that American companies violated the country’s strict gun laws by designing, marketing, and selling military-inspired “assault” weapons.
While many of these weapons are sold in the United States, the Mexican government claimed that they are routinely re-sold to cartels and smuggled across the border. Once in Mexico, drug cartels use American-made firearms to wage war against their rivals.
Mexican government officials have already indicated that they will appeal the ruling.
“This suit by the Mexican government has received worldwide recognition and has been considered a turning point in the discussion around the gun industry’s responsibility for the violence experience [sic] in Mexico and the region,” Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
In his decision, Chief Judge Saylor said that federal law “unequivocally” disallows lawsuits against firearm manufacturers when consumers use guns for their intended purpose.
While Saylor said that the relevant laws contain several, limited exceptions, none were applicable.
“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,” Saylor wrote in his 44-page-long decision.
Lawrence Keane, general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation—an industry trade group—welcomed the dismissal of the “baseless lawsuit.”
“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,” Keane said in response to Saylor’s decision.
The Mexican government, adds ABC News, estimates that 70% of the weapons trafficked into the country come from the United States—with the country’s Foreign Ministry estimating that, in 2019 alone, an estimated 17,000 homicides were committed with smuggled firearms.
In its lawsuit, attorneys for the Mexican state argued that federal laws prohibiting lawsuits against firearm manufacturers are not applicable to injuries that occur outside of the United States.
Nevertheless, Saylor said that the Mexican government could not hold American companies accountable for practices that are permitted by U.S. law.
“Mexico is seeking to hold defendants liable for practices that occurred within the United States and only resulted in harm in Mexico,” Saylor wrote. “This case thus represents a valid domestic application of the PLCAA, and the presumption against extraterritoriality does not apply.”