Landmark Urges Supreme Court to Shield Firearms Firms from Ruling, Citing Broad Industry Impact
Landmark urges the Supreme Court to protect American firearms companies from a disruptive First Circuit opinion that threatens many American industries

Landmark urges the Supreme Court to protect American firearms companies from a disruptive First Circuit opinion that threatens many American industries. 

On May 20, Landmark filed a brief in support of Petitioners in Smith & Wesson Brands, Inc. v. Estados Unidos Mexicanos at the petition for certiorari stage. The case could have enormous financial implications for America’s firearms producers and their ability to supply weapons to the U.S. military, police, and the American civilian population. You can read our brief here.

The Mexican government sued American gun manufacturers for damages caused by cartel violence in Mexico, claiming these companies were responsible under a convoluted theory of proximate causation. According to Mexico, the manufacturers aid and abet the cartels by marketing and designing their firearms as ‘weapons of war’ and willingly supplying dealers who they know provide firearms to straw purchasers and cartel members. Thus, the manufacturers cause harm to the Mexican government because it must spend money for the police, medical costs from injured civilians, and many other things.

The District Court rejected Mexico’s arguments, finding that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), a federal law passed in 2005 to protect gun manufacturers from lawsuits over unlawful use of their firearms, barred Mexico’s suit. However, the First Circuit overturned this ruling on appeal, deciding that an exception in the PLCAA for aiding and abetting illegal firearms transactions allowed Mexico to proceed.

Landmark argued the First Circuit erred in their judgement. They reduced the proximate cause requirement in the aiding and abetting exception to merely whether injuries were reasonably foreseeable as a result of actions taken by the manufacturers. This oversimplification ignores the attenuated chain of causation between the manufacturer’s production and sale of firearms and cartel violence in Mexico, one that involves multiple third parties, some of them criminal. We noted that the First Circuit’s decision conflicts with many similar cases against gun manufacturers from the early 2000’s, which inspired the PLCAA, as well as with the Supreme Court’s standard for proving a party aided and abetted a criminal act, as laid out in Twitter, Inc. v. Taamneh. 

In addition, we argued that a key piece of Mexico’s argument and of the First Circuit’s reasoning- manufacturers aided cartels through the marketing of their weapons- was absurd. Using military-style imagery or language to sell products to civilians is neither new, nor is it unique to firearms manufacturers; producers of products including backpacks, flashlights, and sunglasses.

Landmark concluded by noting the threat the First Circuit’s decision created for the firearms companies. Not only would the $10 billion in damages demanded by Mexico likely bankrupt many of them, the First Circuit precedent could open the door to lawsuits by many nations hostile to the American gun industry and our Second Amendment. Furthermore, other American industries will be put at risk for lawsuits from the unlawful use of their products under the First Circuit’s reasoning. Landmark therefore urged the Supreme Court to hear this case.




We are truly facing existential threats to our individual rights and liberties, the Constitution, and our national character. If unchallenged, this assault on our very way of life will ruin our great nation. With your financial and moral support, Landmark is not going to let that happen without a fight. Will you join us?


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