Wyoming Professor Tells Supreme Court Not To Let Mexico Sue Gun Makers

A Wyoming professor wants the U.S. Supreme Court to kill Mexico’s multibillion-dollar lawsuit as an illegal attempt to bankrupt America’s firearms industry, an effort a Cowboy State gun advocate calls “more of a stunt … than a serious lawsuit.”

Clair McFarland

May 30, 20244 min read

Wyoming gun shop 12 14 22
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

A Wyoming professor is arguing that the Mexican government’s lawsuit against American gun manufacturers is an illegal attempt to financially devastate the nation’s firearms industry and erode Americans' Second Amendment rights.

“Mexico has extinguished its constitutional arms right and now seeks to extinguish America’s,” reads a brief University of Wyoming law professor George Mocsary co-wrote and filed last week in the case of Smith and Wesson v. Estados Unidos Mexicanos. “To that end, Mexico aims to destroy the American firearms industry financially.”

Mocsary composed the brief along with David B. Kopel, Joseph G.S. Greenlee and Erin M. Erhardt on behalf of the National Rifle Association and Independence Institute.

The gunmakers are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, after the Massachusetts-based First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Mexico can sue American gunmakers over Mexico’s violence problems.

Mexico is seeking billions of dollars in damages and extensive gun control measures against U.S. gun-makers Smith & Wesson, Barrett, Beretta, Century Arms, Colt, Glock and Ruger and wholesaler Interstate Arms.

‘Farce Of The Century’

A Wyoming gun seller is calling this case “the farce of the century.”

“We’re not holding our breath on this one,” Scott Weber, owner of Gun Runner Auctions in Wyoming and Ohio, told Cowboy State Daily on Wednesday.

He said he expects the case to fail ultimately on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a 2005 federal law designed to stop the abusive death-by-a-thousand-cuts lawsuits the firearms industry weathered in the 1980s and 1990s.

Mark Jones, a Wyoming-based National Director of Gun Owners of America, said Mocsary’s brief sounds solid to him. And like Weber, Jones finds Mexico’s litigation “comedic.”

“It’s more of a stunt, what Mexico is doing, than a serious lawsuit,” said Jones.

Jones pointed to Mexico’s lack of robust gun rights and rampant crime in some areas.

Mexico has one gun store in the entire nation and issues fewer than 50 gun permits per year, a fact of which the government boasts in its own lawsuit complaint, while the brief outlines that same fact as a sign of animosity toward constitutional firearm rights in general.

That’s The Argument

The Protection of Lawful Commerce In Arms Act underpins part of the argument in the NRA and Independence Institute’s brief, which says Congress has forbidden these kinds of liability lawsuits, and that allowing “the proliferation of meritless Mexico-style cases could destroy the firearms industry solely through litigation costs.”

The brief points to other policy-by-litigation campaigns, such as lawsuits anti-civil-rights groups brought to bankrupt the Black press in the 1950s.

Also, Mexico’s Problem

The brief confronts Mexico’s claim that its gun homicides increased when an American ban on assault-style weapons expired in 2004.

“In fact, Mexico’s homicide rate was lower during each of the first three years after the ban’s expiration … than during any year in which the ban was in effect (from) 1995-2003,” says the brief, citing the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime “Global Study on Homicide.”

The brief also blames Mexican governmental issues for the country’s homicide rates.

It cites scholarly publications by the Wilson Center to blame territorial confrontations between drug cartels, the militarization of public security forces and a failure to prosecute violent criminals.

‘Reckless And Unlawful’

In the original 2021 lawsuit complaint Mexico filed in the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, the government accused the gun dealers of “actively facilitating the unlawful trafficking of their guns to drug cartels and other criminals in Mexico.”

The complaint says between 70% and 90% of guns recovered at crime scenes in Mexico were trafficked from the United States, a claim Mocsary’s brief confronts as incomplete by pointing to other data that say only a slim fraction of the guns recovered are successfully traced.

“Defendants use reckless and corrupt gun dealers and dangerous and illegal sales practices that the cartels rely on to get their guns,” says the complaint.

The complaint lists numerous incidents in which innocent people were shot to death in Mexico.

It claims the gunmakers deliberately design, market, distribute and sell guns “in ways they know with virtual certainty will supply criminals in Mexico” and sell to downstream dealers, “some of whom Defendants know will recklessly or illegally sell guns.”

Clair McFarland can be reached at clair@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter