A lawsuit Mexico filed against U.S. gun manufacturers in August just got a boost from a group of Democrat politicians. The Attorneys General of thirteen states, plus the District of Columbia, signed on to a friend of the court brief to help the Mexicans’ case. Filed with the help of U.S.-based gun control groups, the suit seeks to punish U.S. gun manufacturers for murders committed in Mexico. The legal theory of the country of Mexico is that American companies’ advertising and marketing policies are a legal cause of those deaths.
The suit from Mexico is against popular firearm manufacturers Glock, Smith & Wesson, and Ruger, among others, and was filed in federal court in Massachusetts. The parties are awaiting a ruling from Judge Dennis Saylor on a motion to dismiss filed by the defendants. That motion is what the Attorneys General have weighed in on; they want the court to deny the motion and set the case for trial.
Who Is To Blame?
One way to understand the arguments of Mexico is to liken them to alcohol and prohibited users. While Coors may not sell its beer to minors, given the scope of their sales, they know some minors will consume it. That knowledge, coupled with advertising campaigns appealing to them, showing pretty girls and fun beer parties, make them legally responsible for the consequences of college freshmen who get trashed and crash their cars.
Headlines from big-box media outlets like CNN, “13 states have backed the Mexican government’s lawsuit against a group of gun manufacturers,” or Yahoo News “13 states and two countries throw support behind Mexican lawsuit against gun makers”, bury the lead. All those Attorneys General are Democrats. That lends credence to the charge that their efforts are motivated less by a desire to weigh in on a substantive discussion of the statute or procedure dictated by it but to advance gun control. Smith & Wesson’s brief in support of the motion to dismiss put it succinctly:
“In short, Mexico’s suit is not so much against U.S. gun manufacturers as it is against U.S. gun control policy, as expressed through legislation and regulation, and the Second Amendment. It is a bid to drastically alter long-standing U.S. policy via litigation, instead of by diplomacy or by supporting federal legislation.”
The gun manufacturers’ motion to dismiss rests on several legal bases, including lack of jurisdiction and immunity under the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). Passed in 2005, the PLCAA was designed to shield firearms manufacturers from liability in negligence cases based on theories that illegal uses of their products were foreseeable. The legislation provides that, generally, firearm manufacturers and dealers who act consistently with statutory law are immune from suits due to criminal acts of others.
Good For Me But Racist For Thee
The Democrat AG’s brief to the court attempts to short-circuit that defense by arguing state consumer protection laws, which are not geared to firearms specifically, were violated, allowing the suit to move forward. They cite numerous bases for this belief, but the last one is the best, considering their politics; Federalism. The doctrine has been used by conservatives for at least a generation to argue against central government action on a host of issues and topics. Meanwhile, progressives have vilified those claims as racist and a harbor for all manner of terrible motivations. It’s enough to make a conservative chuckle if the stakes weren’t so high, namely the continuing availability of companies to manufacture firearms in the U.S.
If Judge Saylor grants the motion to dismiss, Mexico will have to win in the appellate courts to find their way to a trial court. If the motion is denied, the gun companies’ arguments will be presented again at trial. Should there be a trial, we can expect an appeal from whichever party is vanquished.
~ Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.