Labrador defends American firearms manufacturers from liability for Mexico’s gun violence

Wednesday, May 29, 2024
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 03: Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, speaks at a news conference at the House Triangle on an energy tax reform initiative and the unveiling of the Energy Freedom and Economic Prosperity Act. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

[BOISE] – Attorney General Raúl Labrador joined a coalition of 27 states 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.

This case is a part of the continued attack on the American firearms industry,” said Attorney General Labrador. “I will never sit back and let a foreign nation dictate the freedoms of American citizens, especially when Mexico’s own hypocritical inaction about immigration, drug cartels, and the border has created such damage here on U.S. soil.”

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.

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 knowing 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, to enforce the PLCAA and definitively address 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.”