By Nate Raymond and Brendan O’Boyle
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Five U.S. gun dealers filed a motion late Friday in a U.S. court to dismiss a lawsuit by Mexico accusing them of participating in illicit weapons trafficking.
Mexico’s government filed the suit in October, arguing that the five dealers in Arizona were responsible for selling guns. It said that those guns ended up in the possession of people who moved them across the nearby border with Mexico.
Mexico has strict gun laws, but the government alleges that drug cartels use guns purchased in the United States to commit crimes in Mexico.
The motion, filed in a U.S. district court in Arizona, says the dealers are protected by the U.S. Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), a 2005 law that shields gun makers and sellers from liability when their products are used in a crime.
Mexico’s lawsuit against the dealers in October came days after a U.S. federal judge in late September dismissed Mexico’s historic $10 billion lawsuit against U.S. gun manufacturers seeking to hold them responsible for facilitating the trafficking of weapons to drug cartels.
The judge in that case cited the PLCAA in his decision, which Mexico is appealing.
“As expected, the defendants argue that they can continue to sell weapons to anyone,” said Alejandro Celorio, top legal adviser for Mexico’s foreign ministry.
“They point out that there is nothing the Mexican government can do to stop it or hold them accountable,” he told Reuters on Saturday.
Celorio told Reuters in October that Mexico’s lawsuits aim to address the “root causes” of gun violence in Mexico.
Lawyers for the defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
(Reporting by Brendan O’Boyle and Nate Raymond; editing by Diane Craft)