Thirteen blue-state attorneys general joined together last week to show their support for a lawsuit in a federal court in Massachusetts filed by the government of Mexico that accuses American gun makers of facilitating the smuggling of weapons to Mexico.
The Democratic Attorneys General stepped in to help argue against a motion filed by the firearms manufacturers to dismiss the case. They argued that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) enacted in 2005 does not protect the defendants in the case.
The attorneys generally seek to remove the protections provided under PLCAA, making legal manufacturers immune from liability when a third-party criminal uses a gun they made in an illegal act.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta said on behalf of the group that the PLCAA is “not a free pass to knowingly allow” guns made by the American companies to make their way to criminals in Mexico.
The Democratic attorneys are asking the court to hold manufacturers, retailers, and distributors of legal firearms liable for how weapons are marketed to the public. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey stated that it is “unacceptable” for manufacturers and distributors to “knowingly market their products” in ways that could lead to illegal trafficking to foreign criminals.
American gun rights advocates have criticized the lawsuit filed by Mexico. National Shooting Sports Foundation General Counsel and Senior Vice President Lawrence G. Keane said the Mexican government should focus on “bringing Mexican drug cartels to justice in Mexican courtrooms.” He called the lawsuit a baseless attempt to deflect from the Mexican government’s own “disgraceful and corrupt failures.”
The lawsuit alleges that American gun makers “design, market, distribute, and sell” weapons in ways that directly arm drug cartels in Mexico and “do nothing to stop it.” Mexico claims that almost 600,000 firearms are trafficked into its country each year and that the defendants in the lawsuit make around 68 percent of them.
The motion to dismiss filed by the defendants argues that the legal manufacture of guns in America is not the cause of Mexico’s gun violence. They contend that a convoluted series of third-party transactions and Mexico’s incompetence lead to the illegal transfer of otherwise legal products.
The lawsuit filed by Mexico and endorsed by the Democratic Attorneys General does not, of course, do anything to acknowledge the ever-increasing torrent of deadly illegal drugs flowing through Mexico into the United States.