SAF Files Amicus Brief with SCOTUS in S&W Legal Fight Against Mexico


The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Smith & Wesson in its legal fight against the government of Mexico, which seeks to hold the American gun manufacturer liable for criminal acts of third parties in Mexico.

The 23-page brief was submitted by attorneys Thomas R. McCarthy and Tiffany H. Bates of Arlington, Va. It outlines the history of firearms litigation and explains why Congress adopted the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) during the George W. Bush administration.

“As our brief explains,” said SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut, “allowing Mexico to prevail in suing firearm manufacturers for the criminal acts of third parties defies logic and would embolden a new round of lawfare against industry members. Ultimately, these lawsuits would drive many manufacturers out of business and potentially impose requirements on firearm designs that have been rejected by Americans. In the end, it is the American citizen who would suffer, as their choices for arms would be limited to the few surviving manufacturers. The Second Amendment is meaningless without the ability to acquire arms.”

SAF notes in its brief the Mexican government’s demand for literally billions of dollars in damages is exactly the kind of thing the PLCAA was designed to block.

“Almost 20 years ago,” SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb recalled, “Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act to prevent such litigation, which was essentially designed to bankrupt the firearms industry, thus endangering the ability of American citizens to exercise their rights under the Second Amendment. Allowing foreign governments to hold American firearms manufacturers responsible for criminal activity in other countries is both unjustifiable and preposterous.”

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The Second Amendment Foundation ( is the nation’s oldest and largest tax-exempt education, research, publishing and legal action group focusing on the Constitutional right and heritage to privately own and possess firearms. Founded in 1974, The Foundation has grown to more than 720,000 members and supporters and conducts many programs designed to better inform the public about the consequences of gun control.

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The legal battle between the government of Mexico and U.S. gun manufacturers centers on the attempt by Mexico to hold American gun makers liable for criminal activities carried out by third parties within Mexican territory. This case is unprecedented in its scope and has significant implications for both international law and the firearms industry in the United States.

Mexico’s lawsuit seeks to obtain substantial financial damages from U.S. gun manufacturers, arguing that their products have been used extensively in violent crimes and drug-related activities within Mexico. The Mexican government contends that the gun makers are responsible for the flow of firearms into the hands of criminal organizations, contributing to the country’s ongoing violence and instability.

In response, U.S. gun manufacturers and their advocates argue that this legal action is fundamentally flawed. They assert that holding manufacturers accountable for the actions of individuals who illegally obtain and misuse firearms is not only unjust but also contradicts established legal principles. Furthermore, they emphasize that these sales were conducted in accordance with U.S. laws, and the manufacturers cannot control the downstream illegal activities that may involve their products.

The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), passed by the U.S. Congress in 2005, is a critical element in this dispute. The PLCAA was designed to protect firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held liable for the criminal misuse of their products by third parties. Proponents of the PLCAA argue that the act is essential to safeguarding the firearms industry from crippling lawsuits that could threaten its existence and, by extension, infringe on the Second Amendment rights of American citizens.

Critics of Mexico’s legal strategy warn that a favorable ruling for Mexico could open the floodgates for similar lawsuits from other foreign governments or entities, potentially destabilizing the firearms industry and limiting the availability of firearms to law-abiding citizens. They argue that such outcomes would not only harm the industry but also have broader implications for constitutional rights and international trade relations.

The outcome of this legal battle is poised to set a significant precedent. If Mexico’s claims are upheld, it could lead to a reevaluation of the responsibilities and liabilities of firearms manufacturers in the U.S. and potentially across the globe. Conversely, a decision in favor of the U.S. gun makers would reinforce the protections afforded by the PLCAA and underscore the challenges of holding manufacturers accountable for the independent actions of third parties.

This case remains a pivotal collision of international law, domestic legislation, and the ongoing debate over gun control and manufacturers’ liability.

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