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Victory for Gun Safety in the Courts and Holding the Gun Industry Accountable: First Circuit Court of Appeals Issues Historic Ruling, Sides with Mexican Government in Case Tying American Gun Manufacturers to Firearm Trafficking Across U.S.-Mexico Border


NEW YORK – Everytown Law, the nation’s largest and most experienced team of litigators in the U.S. working full-time on advancing gun violence prevention in the courts, released the following statement applauding the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit’s decision to side with the Mexican government in their suit to hold American gun manufacturers responsible for facilitating the trafficking of deadly weapons to cartels across the U.S.-Mexico border. 

This ruling marks the first time a federal appeals court has ruled in favor of a foreign government in a case seeking accountability from gun manufacturers for their role in the proliferation of firearms trafficking. 

The Mexican government argued that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCCA), the federal law that provides the gun industry with certain protections from civil liability, does not shield gun manufacturers from being held liable for the trafficking of firearms to Mexican criminals. 

“Today’s decision by the court should serve as a wake up call to the gun industry that they are not immune from accountability,” said Eric Tirschwell, Executive Director of Everytown Law. “Gun manufacturers like Smith & Wesson, Glock and Ruger know all too well that their weapons are being trafficked across the U.S.-Mexico border and being funneled to cartels. They must be held accountable, and we’re glad to see that the court recognizes that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act does not prevent these bad actors from being held liable.”

Everytown filed an amicus brief in support of Mexico’s case, joined by other gun safety groups.  Mexico’s suit names the six U.S.-based manufacturers whose guns are most often recovered in Mexico: Smith & Wesson, Beretta, Century Arms, Colt, Glock and Ruger. Mexico’s suit also names gun manufacturer Barrett, whose .50 caliber sniper rifle has long been linked to Mexican drug cartels and Interstate Arms, a Boston-area wholesaler through which all but one of the defendant manufacturers sell their guns through re-sale to dealers across the United States.

Nearly all guns recovered at crime scenes in Mexico – between 70% to 90% – were trafficked across the U.S.-Mexico border. During 2020, over 50% of all firearms recovered by law enforcement in Mexico for which a manufacturer was identified were made by just seven companies: the manufacturer Defendants. This is no surprise given that Mexico’s laws make it virtually impossible to legally purchase a gun. Mexico is home to one gun store in the entire nation and the country issues fewer than 50 gun permits each year.

To speak with an expert at Everytown about gun industry immunity and gun industry accountability, please contact