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Gunmakers to ask judge to toss Mexico's $10B suit


(Reuters) – Major U.S. gun manufacturers on Tuesday are slated to urge a federal judge in Boston to dismiss a lawsuit by the Mexican government accusing them of facilitating the trafficking of weapons to drug cartels, leading to thousands of deaths in Mexico.

Lawyers for gun makers including Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger & Co. are expected during a virtual hearing to ask U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor to toss a novel lawsuit Mexico filed in August seeking $10 billion from them.

Mexico accused the companies of undermining its strict gun laws by designing, marketing and distributing military-style assault weapons in ways they knew would arm drug cartels, fueling murders, extortions and kidnappings.

Mexico's lawsuit said over 500,000 guns are trafficked annually from the United States into Mexico, of which more than 68% are made by the manufacturers it sued, which also include Beretta USA, Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, Colt's Manufacturing Co. and Glock Inc.

The companies argue Mexico has failed to establish the financial costs it incurred for health care, law enforcement and other efforts to address gun violence were attributable to the manufacturers' actions.

They also argued a U.S. law, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, protects them from lawsuits over their products' misuse.

Mexico, though, says that law only precludes lawsuits over injuries in the United States and would not shield the companies from allegations over the trafficking of guns to Mexican criminals.

Democratic attorneys general from 13 states along with the District of Columbia in January filed briefs supporting Mexico, as did the countries of Antigua and Barbuda and Belize, which said violent gun crimes had harmed Latin America and Caribbean nations.

The companies did not respond to requests for comment.