Iron River Gun Trafficking Case

35 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2022 Last revised: 5 Oct 2022

Date Written: September 30, 2022


An estimated quarter- to half-million guns are smuggled from the U.S. into Mexico each year. Seventy percent of guns recovered at Mexican crime scenes are traced back to the U.S. Many of these weapons are military-styled assault rifles, shipped into Mexico by U.S. drug gangs. This pipeline endangers citizens of the four U.S. border states, many of the nation’s counties, and the police who are outgunned by cartels. According to the complaint, 'tens of thousands of Mexico’s citizens have been wounded and killed.'

The typical precursor is sloppy or illegal practices in the manufacturer-wholesaler-retailer-buyer distribution chain. Data available to the gun industry could be used by its members to substantially reduce sales of guns to 'bad apple' retailers.

Mexico’s unique law suit is the first whereby a foreign government has sued American gun makers. If ultimately successful, the trial judge has hinted that this novel filing would encourage similar litigation−in the U.S. and other nations.

Estados Unidos Mexicanos is not a lawsuit against the Second Amendment. Mexico instead hopes to trigger an exception to the federal statute that generally bars such suits against the U.S. gun industry. The plaintiff relies on lower U.S. court cases that have either interpreted that immunity from suit−in a way that allows such suits to proceed−or have considered this federal statute unconstitutional.

Mexico filed in the U.S. for several presumptive reasons. It seeks stratospheric damages of 'billions of dollars each year'. A large recovery is more likely in an American court than in Mexico. Securing the appearance of these U.S. corporations in a Mexican venue would be beyond wishful thinking. Mexico’s other major hurdle is whether a U.S. court can exercise personal jurisdiction, when all of the alleged harm has occurred in Mexico.

The case is now in the trial court. After that result is appealed, and case-split certiorari is sought, the reviewing courts may dismiss this case because: (1) it does not trigger the key exception to federal immunity from suit; and/or (2) the court lacks personal jurisdiction over the non-resident defendants.

56 Suffolk University Law Review (forthcoming 2022).

Keywords: Gun, Mexico, U.S., Second Amendment, gangs, illegal, government, American, Estados Unidos Mexicanos, federal, gun industry, corporations, immunity

JEL Classification: A1, A10, B2, F01, F02, F18, F23, F5, F52, F53, F61, F62, G18, G38, H52, I18, K14, K13, K23, K4, K42

Suggested Citation

Slomanson, William R., Iron River Gun Trafficking Case (September 30, 2022). Thomas Jefferson School of Law Research Paper No. 4234796, 2022, 56 Suffolk University Law Review (forthcoming 2022), Available at SSRN: or

William R. Slomanson (Contact Author)

Thomas Jefferson School of Law ( email )

701 B Street
Suite 110
San Diego, CA 92101
United States

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