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Published on April 07, 2024
Federal Judge Allows Mexico's Lawsuit Against Arizona Gun Shops Over Firearm Trafficking Claims to ProceedSource: Unsplash/Tom Def

The ongoing legal showdown between the Mexican government and U.S. gun shops has taken a turn as a federal judge gives the green light for Mexico's lawsuit to continue. The court case accuses five Arizona gun shops of negligently selling firearms that have ended up fueling violence and crime in Mexico.

Setting the stage for a high-stakes legal battle, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Marquez in Tucson has dismissed the argument that the shops are protected under the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA). Rather, Marquez pointed out that Mexico has made credible allegations that, the shops violated various U.S. firearm-related laws, which could exempt them from PLCAA protection, according to U.S. News.

In a pivotal move, the lawsuit targets Diamondback Shooting Sports, SNG Tactical, The Hub Gun Store, Ammo A-Z, and Sprague’s Sports. These dealers stand accused of facilitating weapons trafficking to criminal gangs across the border, primarily through sales to straw purchasers – individuals who buy guns legally to pass them on to those who cannot purchase them.

Jonathan Lowy, president of Global Action on Gun Violence and co-counsel representing the Mexican government, shed light on the severity of the issue, saying "about 70% of the guns recovered at crime scenes in Mexico are from the U.S." In a determined tone, Lowy emphasized Mexico’s intention to staunch the inflow of crime guns, detailing that the accused shops are implicated in trafficking hundreds of illegal weapons annually, as reported by AZFamily.

Mexico's legal team greeted the ruling as a significant stride towards accountability for gun violence, expressing eagerness to substantiate their claims in court. Meanwhile, defense attorneys have not come forth with remarks regarding the decision. This lawsuit trails shortly after a similar $10 billion claim by Mexico against U.S. gun manufacturers was dismissed in Boston but has since been revived on appeal.

In a statement to AZFamily, Michael Brick, owner of Yuma Coin and Gun Shop, conveyed a sense of shared responsibility among dealers, stating "Well as far as responsible, that’s a big word.” Although Brick's shop is not named in the lawsuit, he acknowledges the possibility of his guns making their way to Mexico despite efforts to prevent such outcomes and adherence to background check protocols.

With this legal go-ahead, observers are closely watching as a unique international legal challenge against the U.S. firearms industry unfolds. The case continues to stir discussions on the complex relationship between U.S. gun laws, cross-border trafficking, and the rampant violence it fuels in neighboring nations.