Mexico Violence
A forensics investigator works the scene of a massive shootout in San Miguel Totolapan, Mexico, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. A drug gang burst into the town hall and shot to death 20 people, including a mayor and his father, officials said Thursday. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo

(The Center Square) – California Attorney General Rob Bonta joined a group of state attorneys general in filing an amicus brief supporting the Mexican government in an American lawsuit.

The Mexican government is suing gun manufacturers, blaming them for gun violence in Mexico.

The attorneys general filed their brief in the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Estados Unidos Mexicanos v. Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc.

The attorneys general want to see the district court decision that dismissed the suit overturned. They argue that the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), “does not shield the companies, including Smith & Wesson, Beretta, Ruger, Glock, Century Arms, Barrett, and Colt; as well as gun distributor Interstate Arms, from accountability,” according to a press release from California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office.

“Gun manufacturers and sellers seem to believe PLCAA gives them a free pass to make and distribute weapons they know are being trafficked and used to terrorize communities in Mexico,” Attorney General Bonta said in the release. “In most industries, companies are well aware that they can be held accountable when they violate the law — firearms should be no different. We urge the court to reverse the district court decision and allow this case to move forward.”

An estimated 70% of firearms recovered from Mexico from 2018 to 2020 originated in the United States, according to a 2020 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

Bonta’s office notes that Mexico only has one gun store and that about 200,000 firearms come to Mexico via the United States annually.

PLCAA allows the law to hold gun manufacturers and sellers liable for misconduct when they knowingly violate the law.

The Mexican government alleges in its lawsuit that eight gun manufacturers and a distributor know that their weapons are trafficked illegally into Mexico and that they are knowingly breaking the law to sell and market these weapons.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts dismissed Mexico’s claim in November 2022, arguing common-law claims were barred by PLCAA. It also said that Mexico “had not plausibly alleged the statutory claims,” according to the release from Bonta’s office.

In response, Mexico appealed its case to the First Circuit.

In the amicus brief, the attorneys general told the court to reserve the district court decision, arguing that the PLCAA does not protect the firearms industry from accountability in “their role in fueling the rampant gun violence in Mexico,” according to the release.