(Reuters) – Major U.S. arms manufacturers will on Tuesday urge a federal judge in Boston to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Mexican government accusing them of facilitating the trade in arms to drug cartels, leading to thousands of deaths in Mexico.
Lawyers for arms manufacturers including Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co. is expected during a virtual hearing to ask U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor to file a new lawsuit filed by Mexico in August, requesting $ 10 billion from them.
Mexico accused companies of undermining its strict gun laws by designing, marketing and distributing military assault weapons in ways they knew would arm drug cartels, incite murder, extortion and kidnapping.
Mexico̵7;s lawsuit states that more than 500,000 weapons are traded annually from the United States to Mexico, of which more than 68% are manufactured by the manufacturers it sued, which also includes Beretta USA, Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Colt’s Manufacturing Co. and Glock Inc.
The companies claim that Mexico has failed to determine the financial costs of medical care, law enforcement and other efforts to deal with gun violence were attributable to the actions of the manufacturers.
They also claimed that a US law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, protects them from lawsuits over the abuse of their products.
However, Mexico says the law only excludes lawsuits about damages in the United States and would not protect companies from accusations of arms trafficking to Mexican criminals.
Democratic prosecutors from 13 states along with the District of Columbia filed a brief in support of Mexico in January, as did the countries of Antigua and Barbuda and Belize, which said violent gun violence had harmed Latin America and the Caribbean nations.
The companies did not respond to requests for comment.