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Sean D. Reyes
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AG Reyes Defends American Firearms Manufacturers From Being Held Liable for Mexico’s Gun Violence

SALT LAKE CITY – Attorney General Reyes joined a coalition of 27 states Tuesday in defending American firearms manufacturers against attempts to hold the companies liable for gun violence in Mexico. If a lower court’s ruling is allowed to stand, Americans’ Second Amendment rights could be threatened.

In their petition, the attorneys general ask the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to correct a lower court’s ruling in Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc.,, v. Mexico to keep other nations, like Mexico, from using American courts to limit the rights of American citizens.

The Mexican government claims that firearms manufacturers should be held liable for the gun violence occurring south of the border since the companies know some of their products are unlawfully trafficked into the country. However, Congress enacted the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act of 2005 (PLCAA) to balance Americans’ Second Amendment right with the need to keep guns away from criminals while protecting firearms companies from being held liable for crimes committed with their products.

“The level of violence at our Southern border and in parts of Mexico are out of control and tragic. Our hearts go out to those who have suffered from such wanton and senseless conduct. But Mexico’s attempt to blame gun manufacturers is misplaced,” said Attorney General Reyes. “The Mexican government must accept responsibility for its own policy choices and priorities in creating or allowing the environment that gives rise to its complaints. The PLCAA was enacted specifically to address cases such as this. We hope SCOTUS takes this opportunity to properly interpret the law and protect lawful gun manufacturers from liability for misuse of their products. If the Mexican government wants to hold others liable for impact to its country, perhaps it should be held responsible for the tens of thousands of drug overdose deaths in America from fentanyl and other illicit substances coming from drug operations based in Mexico.”

Mexico’s case was first dismissed by a federal judge in Massachusetts in 2022. Then, on appeal, the First Circuit wrongly held that Mexico’s claims fall within an exception to PLCAA, which narrowly authorizes suits alleging known violations of firearms laws that proximately cause a plaintiff’s injuries. To squeeze Mexico’s case into that narrow exception, the First Circuit’s decision relies on an expansive view of proximate causation that will eviscerate PLCAA.

The attorneys general argue that the petition should be granted because Congress – not the judiciary – regulates the firearms industry, enforces the PLCAA, and definitively addresses the scope of its exceptions, and because Mexico’s sovereign power undercuts any claim of proximate causation.

“Mexico could simply close—indeed, militarize—its border with the United States if it chose to do so,” the brief states. “Doubtless the closure would be painful, and Mexico has chosen to do otherwise. Indeed, Mexico has flung its border open and sought to extort billions of dollars from the United States to even attempt to manage the resulting chaos. Mexico should not be permitted to exert de facto control over the rights of American citizens to alleviate the consequences of its own policy choices.”

Attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming, along with the Arizona Legislature also joined the brief led by Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen.

Click here to read the brief.