Attorney General Knudsen defends American firearms manufacturers from being held liable for Mexico’s gun violence

Attorney General Knudsen defends American firearms manufacturers from being held liable for Mexico’s gun violence

HELENA – Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen led 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 the petition, Attorney General Knudsen asks 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.

“American firearms manufacturers should not and do not have to answer for the actions of criminals, as established by the commonsense federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Mexico’s bad policies created the country’s gun violence problem,” Attorney General Knudsen said. “Rather than take responsibility, Mexico and anti-gun activists are trying to blame and bankrupt American companies that follow the law. The appeals court erred in their decision and the Supreme Court needs to correct it.”

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.”

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, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming, along with the Arizona Legislature also joined the brief.

Click here to read the brief.

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