MEXICO CITY (AP) — A U.S. federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Mexican government against U.S. arms manufacturers, arguing that their business practices have caused bloodshed in Mexico.
Judge F. Dennis Saylor in Boston ruled that Mexico’s claims did not go beyond the broad protections afforded to gunmakers by the Law to Protect the Legal Trade in Arms passed in 2005.
The law protects gun manufacturers from damages “resulting from the criminal or unlawful misuse” of a firearm.
“While the court has considerable sympathy for the people of Mexico and none for those who traffic weapons to Mexican criminal organizations, it has a duty to comply with the law,” Saylor wrote.
The Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it will appeal the decision “and will continue to insist that the sale of weapons is responsible, transparent and accountable, and that the negligent way in which they are sold in the United States facilitates criminals’ access to them.” .
Mexico was seeking at least $10 billion in compensation, but legal experts had viewed the lawsuit as a long shot.
The Mexican government argued that the companies know that their practices contribute to arms trafficking to Mexico and facilitate it. Mexico wants compensation for the damage that the weapons have caused in its people.
Those from the South included some of the biggest names in guns, including: Smith & Wesson Brands Inc., Barrett Firearms Manufacturing Inc., Beretta USA Corp., Colt’s Manufacturing Company LLC, and Glock Inc.
Another defendant was Interstate Arms, a Boston-area wholesaler that sells guns from all but one of the named manufacturers to dealers across the US.
The Mexican government estimates that 70% of the weapons trafficked to Mexico come from the United States, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He said that in 2019 alone, at least 17,000 homicides in Mexico were linked to arms trafficking.
Mexico argued that the protection law of the United States did not apply when an injury occurred outside the United States.
“Mexico seeks to hold defendants accountable for practices that occurred within the United States and only resulted in harm in Mexico,” he wrote. “This case thus represents a valid domestic application of the PLCAA, and the presumption against extraterritoriality does not apply.”
The sale of firearms is severely restricted in Mexico and controlled by the Department of Defense. But the country’s powerful drug cartels smuggle thousands of weapons into Mexico.