October 28, 2022 – Following the  complete dismissal of Mexico’s lawsuit against firearms manufacturers and a distributor by the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the Mexican government has turned its attention to firearms retailers closer to the U.S.-Mexico border. On October 10, 2022, Mexico filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona against five Arizona-based firearms dealers located in Tucson, Phoenix, and Yuma. Mexico is alleging that these dealers “knowingly” sell “military-style” firearms to “straw purchasers” who then illegally traffic those firearms into Mexico, where they are used by the cartels and other criminals in violent crimes.

In a similar theme to the now-dismissed Massachusetts lawsuit, Mexico relies upon studies and extrapolations that purportedly show that the overwhelming majority of illegal firearms recovered in Mexico were originally sold in the U.S. Mexico claims that Arizona in particular has the highest number of traced firearms found at crime scenes across the border and that the named defendants are “the worst offenders.” The cartels allegedly seek out these dealers on the basis that they are alleged to “overlook” straw sales. Based upon these allegations, Mexico claims that the dealers have violated numerous federal statutes prohibiting straw sales and alleges causes of action for negligence, nuisance, unjust enrichment, violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and violations of the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act. Mexico demands various penalties and punitive damages to be paid by the dealers as well as injunctive relief and appointment of a monitor to oversee their sales practices to prevent further trafficking.
In essence, Mexico is rehashing the same speculative and conclusory arguments from its case against the manufacturers as well as old arguments that many U.S. municipalities tried to assert against the firearm industry more than 20 years ago. As such, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (“PLCAA”) will once again form the principal defense against this new attack on the industry.

Renzulli Law Firm, LLP will continue to monitor this pending litigation and other attacks by foreign governments on the U.S. firearms industry.  If you have any questions concerning firearms related litigation, please contact John F. Renzulli or Christopher Renzulli.