US judge throws out Mexico’s lawsuit against gun makers

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A U.S. federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Mexican government against U.S. arms manufacturers, alleging their trade practices led to bloodshed in Mexico.

Judge F. Dennis Saylor in Boston ruled that Mexico’s claims did not exceed the broad protections granted to gun manufacturers by the Lawful Trade in Arms Protection Act passed in 2005.

The law protects gun manufacturers from damages that “arise from the criminal or unlawful use” of a firearm.

“While the court has considerable sympathy for the people of Mexico and absolutely no sympathy for those who traffic weapons to Mexican criminal organizations, it is bound to follow the law,” Saylor wrote.

Mexico’s foreign ministry said it would appeal the ruling “and will continue to insist that the sale of arms is responsible, transparent and accountable, and that the careless manner in which they are sold in the United States facilitates access to them by criminals.”

Mexico was seeking at least $10 billion in damages, but legal experts had seen the lawsuit as a long shot.

The Mexican government has argued that the companies know their practices contribute to and facilitate arms trafficking into Mexico. Mexico wants reparations for the havoc the guns have wreaked on its people.

Among those prosecuted were some of the biggest names in the gun business, including: Smith & Wesson Brands Inc., Barrett Firearms Manufacturing Inc., Beretta USA Corp., Colt’s Manufacturing Company LLC and Glock Inc.

Another defendant was Interstate Arms, a Boston-area wholesaler that sells guns from all but one of the named manufacturers to dealers in the U.S.

The Mexican government estimates that 70% of the weapons trafficked into Mexico come from the US, according to the State Department. It said that in 2019 alone, at least 17,000 homicides in Mexico were related to gun trafficking.

Mexico argued that US protection law did not apply when an injury occurred outside the United States.

“Mexico seeks to hold the defendants liable for practices that occurred within the United States and resulted only in harm to Mexico,” he wrote. “Therefore, this case represents a valid domestic application of the PLCAA, and the presumption against extraterritoriality does not apply.”

The sale of firearms is strictly restricted in Mexico and controlled by the Ministry of Defense. But thousands of guns are smuggled into Mexico by the country’s powerful drug cartels.

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