Mexico Looks to Bypass U.S. Gun Companies’ Special Legal Immunity

Mexico Looks to Bypass U.S. Gun Companies’ Special Legal Immunity

For nearly two decades, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act has been the death knell of nearly every lawsuit filed against the gun industry. The law, passed after a wave of industry lobbying, shields gun manufacturers from being held liable for the harms wrought by their products. But a new lawsuit brought earlier this month by the Mexican government uses a novel argument to try and sidestep PLCCA altogether. The lawsuit , filed on August 4 in federal court, alleges that the negligence of a group of major gunmakers and wholesalers — including Smith & Wesson, Glock, and Colt — has fueled cartel violence in Mexico. Specifically, the Mexican government argues that the manufacturers marketed guns in ways that attracted violent criminals, and that they chose not to police their distribution channels despite knowing that many of their weapons were being illegally trafficked over the southern border. Mexico’s lawyers acknowledge that PLCAA bars claims against gun manufacturers and distributors for gun violence perpetrated by third parties. But they argue that Congress only intended those protections to apply when the violence occurs inside U.S. borders and violates U.S. law. Since Mexico’s suit deals with injuries to Mexican citizens on Mexican soil caused by violations of Mexican law, PLCAA does not apply. “PLCAA is not going to be an issue for us,” said Steve Shadowen, the lead attorney for the Mexican government. “We had enough confidence in our claims to say we’ll litigate them in [the gun industry’s] home […]

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