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Second Mexico Lawsuit Against U.S. Gun Dealers Moves Forward

Earlier this year, Mexico’s first lawsuit against several gun makers was allowed to proceed

A U.S. district judge based out of Tucson has ruled that the Mexican government’s civil suit against five Arizona gun dealers, alleging that they “systematically participate in trafficking military-style weapons and ammunition to drug cartels in Mexico by supplying gun traffickers,” can proceed. In her ruling, Judge Rosemary Marquez held that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) of 2005, which gives the gun industry broad legal protections, did not preclude Mexico’s claims against the five dealers: Diamondback Shooting Sports, SnG Tactical, The Hub, Ammo A-Z, and Sprague’s Sports.

First filed in October 2022, Estados Unidos Mexicanos v. Diamondback Shooting Sports is the second lawsuit the Mexican government has levied against the U.S. gun industry. The first, which alleges that gun makers Barrett Firearms, Beretta, Century Arms, Colt, Glock, Ruger, and Smith & Wesson, and distributor Interstate Arms, had undermined the country’s strict gun laws and “design, market, distribute, and sell guns in ways they know routinely arm the drug cartels in Mexico,” was recently revived by a First Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.

Plausible allegations

Judge Marquez wrote that Mexico’s lawsuit against the dealers “plausibly alleges that, as a result of red flags including straw sales, bulk sales, cash sales, and repeat sales of military-style weapons favored by Mexican cartels, Defendants knew or should have known that firearms they sold would ultimately be provided to and used by cartel members for unlawful purposes in Mexico, resulting in violence and economic harm.”

Further, Judge Marquez notes that the PLCAA does not protect members of the gun industry who have “knowingly violated a State or Federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing of the product” — what’s known as the “predicate exception” — and Mexico’s lawsuit alleges that the dealers “knowingly violated…firearm-specific laws of the United States, including unlicensed firearm dealing and exportation, straw sales, firearm trafficking, and fale entries on ATF Form 4473” transaction records.

In its complaint, the Mexican government alleges that the dealers “participate in trafficking into Mexico” between 55 and 822 firearms annually.

To learn more about the firearm supply chain and how gun dealers across the country have helped firearms flow from the legal to illegal markets, click here.

The industry responds

The gun industry’s trade association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), immediately criticized Judge Marquez’ ruling. The NSSF’s managing director of public affairs, Mark Oliva, wrote that “Mexico is running roughshod on America’s sovereignty in American courts” and that “President López Obrador is scoffing at the United States. He is twisting U.S. law, trampling U.S. sovereignty and claiming the United States can’t enforce their own laws because it would offend Mexico.”

According to Oliva, “Mexico claims these firearm retailers are facilitating illegal firearm trafficking to Mexico. There’s no evidence of this.”

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