Monday, August 21, 2023

Firearm Industry Association Submits Friend-of-the-Court Brief to Inter-American Human Rights Court

Amicus Curiae

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), representing the firearms industry, has submitted an amicus brief opposing Mexico's request for an advisory opinion from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR). NSSF contends that Mexico is trying to misuse the international court to bolster its own $10 billion lawsuit against American gun manufacturers and to weaken U.S. legislation, specifically the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), enacted by Congress in 2005.

This move comes as the initial lawsuit against the U.S. gun industry is being reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, after a U.S. District Court in Massachusetts dismissed it. Additionally, Mexico has initiated another lawsuit against five gun retailers in Arizona, accusing them of illegal arms trafficking, though a motion to have the case dismissed is currently pending.

Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF's Senior Vice President and General Counsel, criticized Mexico's strategy, saying it aims to "improperly influence U.S. judicial processes via an international body that lacks jurisdiction over the pending appeals." Keane pointed out that Mexican authorities themselves have failed to deal with criminal activities within their own borders, which are the root causes of illegal firearms trafficking.

NSSF supports the Mexican people but argues that the problems are caused by Mexico's own governance, not lawful U.S. businesses. The organization sees Mexico's call for an advisory opinion from the IACHR as a disrespectful act against U.S. sovereignty and its legal and constitutional systems. The IACHR has in the past refrained from issuing opinions that could influence ongoing domestic legal disputes, a precedent which the NSSF argues should continue.

NSSF emphasizes the stringent regulations governing the U.S. firearms industry, administered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). All legally-produced and sold firearms come with ATF Form 4473, which ensures that buyers are not prohibited individuals, verified by an FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check.

Furthermore, the NSSF has had long-term collaborations with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and ATF, involving initiatives such as the "Don't Lie for the Other Guy" program to prevent straw purchases, and Operation Secure Store to help firearms retailers secure their inventory.

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