A bad day for the gun industry

The Call to Global Action      January 2024

Dear GAGV,

This week, we received word from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit that Mexico’s lawsuit against six American gun manufacturers can proceed. Having litigated gun cases for over 25 years, I can confidently say that this is the most important court ruling against the gun industry—ever. Read on for more details!   

Jon Lowy,
Founder & President

A True Game Changer: Piercing the Gun Industry's Armor

For almost twenty years, a federal law has significantly shielded gun manufacturers from liability for facilitating gun violence. This week, that shield cracked, thanks in large part to GAGV. 

GAGV is proud to represent the Government of Mexico in its two landmark lawsuits against the gun industry. A trial judge had ruled earlier that the U.S. gun industry protection law, PLCAA, prohibited the lawsuit against six gun manufacturers. Last summer, Jon and his co-counsel argued the appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.  

On Monday, the Court ruled unanimously that Mexico’s lawsuit could proceed. The ruling is the first to uphold the right of a sovereign country to sue the gun industry.

And it marks the first time since Congress enacted the unfair gun industry shield law that a federal appeals court allowed claims that could hold gun manufacturers liable for enabling gun trafficking.

Photo credit: Maria Magdaleno Arrellago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Smith & Wesson is among the gun manufacturers the
Mexican government names in its lawsuit. Photo: Maria Magdaleno Arrellaga/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The ruling in Mexico v. Smith & Wesson, et al. does exactly what GAGV set out to do—bring international pressure on the gun industry and pierce the armor that has enabled it to act with impunity for so many years.

The defendants may well request Supreme Court review, but we are optimistic that this ruling will stand.

The case will then move to discovery, which can give us access to the gun industry’s secrets and expose how gun companies supply and profit from the criminal market. That’s a big deal. And we’re confident we can win.  

You can listen here to a short interview on NPR with Jon about the case. And read more about this landmark decision on our media page here!


Berkeley Law Students Join Forces with GAGV

In other great news, GAGV is empowering the young people who are our future. Berkeley Law’s student-led Gun Violence Protection Project is forging a new path by teaming up with GAGV to do research and analysis on global gun issues.

“In pursuing international impact litigation claims, Global Action on Gun Violence has been able to find success holding these manufacturers liable because international claims may avoid special protections given to them in the U.S.,” says 3L Gwen Iannone, who co-leads the group with 2L Grace Geurin-Henley.

The students develop pragmatic legal skills while working with GAGV and learning how ineffective U.S. gun industry regulation contributes to gun crimes far beyond its borders.

Photo: Laurie Frasier

2L Grace Geurin-Henley (left) and 3L Gwen Iannone (right) are leaders of Berkeley Law's Gun Violence Prevent Project. Photo: Laurie Frasier

GAGV will benefit from the group's legal research and writing.

GAGV also has a close and ongoing working relationship with George Washington University's Civil and Human Rights Law Clinic, which we look forward to profiling in the future.

We are thrilled to work with the students at Berkeley Law's Gun Violence Protection Project and at GWU's Civil and Human Rights Law Clinic!


"Could International Pressure Ultimately Strengthen U.S. Gun Laws?"

That is the headline of a terrific Q & A with Jon Lowy by The Trace's Chip Brownlee. The Trace is dedicated to covering gun violence issues exclusively.

When asked about GAGV's two Mexico cases, including the one that can now move ahead, Jon explained: "We’re seeking to have the manufacturers sell and distribute guns in responsible ways that hinder gun trafficking. If that were to happen, the U.S. would be an even greater beneficiary than Mexico, because while Mexico is subject

Photo: Emilio Vazquez/AP

A knotted gun sculpture by Mexican artist Paolo Delfin displayed at a park in Monterey Mexico. Photo: Emilio Vasquez/AP

to this flood of crime guns as a result of trafficking and reckless gun industry practices, the U.S. is even more subject to those harms."

Take a moment to read the recent Q & A to learn more about GAGV's new approach.

Give to GAGV Today to Keep the Pressure On!

Keeping the momentum going and continuing to pressure the gun industry are key to real change. GAGV wants to bring more lawsuits like Mexico’s to keep piercing the armor of the gun industry! We can't do it without you!

Thank you!

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