US arms makers file joint petition to dismiss Mexico complaint accusing them of arms trafficking

Lawyers representing half a dozen U.S. gunmakers and a gun distributor have filed a joint petition to dismiss a Mexican government complaint against the companies for facilitating the trafficking of guns in a country ravaged by violence.

Andrew Lelling, the former Massachusetts US attorney who oversaw the prosecution of the infamous “Varsity Blues” college admissions scandal and who joined Jones Day in March as a partner, filed the motion on Monday on behalf of arms manufacturers. Lelling and Jones Day partner Noel Francisco, a former U.S. solicitor general under the Trump administration, are representing Smith & Wesson Brands in the lawsuit.

They and lawyers for manufacturers Sturm, Ruger & Company, Glock Inc., Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Colt’s Manufacturing Co., Beretta USA Corp., Century International Arms and distributor Witmer Public Safety Group Inc. argued that Mexico does not had no standing, which means that the alleged harm is not attributable to the defendants, but rather comes from a third party that is not in court: namely, the criminals in Mexico.

Besides Jones Day, defense companies include Cozen O’Connor and Day Pitney,

The 58-page petition argued that the defendants were protected by the Law on the Protection of the Legal Trade in Arms, a federal law that grants broad immunity to manufacturers and sellers of licensed firearms from lawsuits alleging resulting harm. illegal use of a firearm by a third party. Party.

The claim “does nothing more than put a new coat of paint on a set of recycled and discredited claims,” ​​the motion reads, adding that the presence of a foreign plaintiff makes Mexico’s case “even less viable.”

The US Congress enacted legislation in 2005 that largely protects the gun industry from civil suits for liability in gunshot deaths. Yet a series of recent victories in U.S. courts have tested lawful arms trade protection law.

Lawyers for the arms manufacturers have also claimed that Mexico has failed to allege facts showing that the defendants’ business practices were the “immediate cause” of the injuries inflicted by Mexican criminal groups.

Gun policy at stake

Mexico severely restricts the sale of firearms. It has a single gun store nationwide and issues less than 50 gun licenses per year. The Mexican government discovered that the vast majority of guns recovered from crime scenes had been brought into the country from the United States.

“Basically, this case involves a conflict of national values”, wrote the lawyers of the arms manufacturers. “While the United States recognizes the right to keep and bear weapons, Mexico has virtually eliminated private ownership of firearms. ”

“Mexico can, of course, impose gun control within its own borders. But in this case, it seeks to break out of its borders and punish the sales of firearms which are not only legal but constitutionally protected in the United States, ”they added.

Mexico is asking for financial compensation for its losses. One study puts the cost to the government of trying to prevent the escalation of gun violence at more than 1.5% of the country’s annual gross domestic product at $ 1 billion.

In July, gunmaker Remington offered some of the families whose children were killed in Newtown, Connecticut, a massive $ 33 million shootout to settle. Lawyers for the plaintiffs in that case argued that the company’s marketing of guns as combat weapons violated a Connecticut law against deceptive marketing practices.

This verdict helped Mexico file a lawsuit against the arms manufacturers.

The Mexican case centers on the argument that driving in the United States causes injuries in Mexico – homicides in the country have skyrocketed since the US ban on assault rifles expired in 2004 – and that the immunity granted to arms manufacturers through the protection of the legal trade in arms The law does not apply.

Attorney Steve Shadowen, who represents the government of Mexico, said in a statement to International: to the government of Mexico and its citizens, and that Mexican law allows the government of Mexico to compel defendants to end these illegal policies. “

“The defendants nonetheless assert that a US law, drafted with only US national concerns in mind, extinguishes this claim for the damage that the defendants predictably and repeatedly cause in Mexico. We are confident that the Court will agree with us that US law does no such thing. ”


The defendants argue that the gun companies “have no legal obligation to Mexico to protect itself from gun violence committed by criminals within its own borders.”

Defendants Sturm Ruger, Glock, Barrett, Colt and Century International also filed separate motions to dismiss on the grounds that the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts does not have jurisdiction in this case.

Sturm Ruger is based in Southport, Connecticut, while Glock’s US headquarters are in Smyrna, Georgia. Barrett is headquartered in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, while Colt is based in West Hartford, Connecticut, and Century International Arms resides in Delray Beach, Florida.

Smith & Wesson, who has been based in Springfield, Massachusetts since 1852, announced in September its intention to move its headquarters to Tennessee. One of the reasons given for the move was recently proposed legislation in Massachusetts that, if passed, would prohibit the company from manufacturing certain firearms in the state.

The joint gunmakers’ motion to reject argued that “allowing foreign law to apply in this case would invite other countries to also invoke their own laws to attack the US gun industry.”

“The Court does not need to facilitate this endeavor,” they added. “The scope of liability suggested by the complaint far exceeds what any US court would allow at common law, even under strict product liability. And such a widespread attack on the gun industry would jeopardize civilian access to guns, a right guaranteed by both the US and Massachusetts constitutions.

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