NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas is backing Mexico’s appeal over its $10 billion lawsuit seeking to hold US gun manufacturers responsible for facilitating the trafficking of deadly weapons.
Last November, a US District Court for the District of Massachusetts dismissed the case against gun manufacturers Smith & Wesson Brands Inc, Sturm Ruger & Co and others which it accused of undermining the country’s gun laws by designing, marketing, and selling military-style assault weapons that drug cartels could use.
In a statement yesterday, Prime Minister Philip Davis reiterated that guns used in the commission of violent crimes in The Bahamas are not manufactured here, but instead, are manufactured abroad and illegally trafficked across this nation’s borders.
“A critical element of the government’s effort to reduce violent crime in our country is cracking down on the proliferation of firearms, with particular focus on strengthening borders and entry points and on interrupting networks of illegal smugglers,” said Davis.
He noted that as part of a broader effort to reduce the impact of gun violence in the country, The Bahamas has joined an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in the United States Court of Appeal in the First Circuit, in support of Mexico, who is appealing their case to hold US gun manufacturers liable for the harm caused by their products.
The Bahamas was joined by Antigua & Barbuda, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Trinidad & Tobago, as well as the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Human Security (“SEHLAC”), a network of NGOs and affiliated professionals specializing in international humanitarian law and seeking disarmament in the Latin American and the Caribbean region.
The brief read: “Unlawful trafficking of American firearms must be curtailed at its source: the US gun industry. The gun manufacturers and distributors from a single nation must not be permitted to hold hostage the law-abiding citizens of an entire region of the world”, and notes that the governments of the participating countries “have a solemn duty to protect the lives, health, and security of their citizens”.
The United Nations has shown that “firearms are key enablers of high homicide levels,” according to the brief, which notes that despite comprising less than one percent of the world’s population, the Caribbean records 23 percent of all homicides.
According to the statement, the brief argues that US gun industry practices, including the bulk sales of guns to dealers who are known to engage in practices correlated with illegal weapons smuggling, have caused significant harm to the countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region.
“The brief points to the increase in gun violence in The Bahamas, including collateral damage to unintended victims, including Bahamian children caught in the crossfire in recent years. Another example of harm cited in the brief includes the use of firearms by Haitian gangs in violent crimes and kidnapping, which has led many Haitian migrants to flee their country,” Davis said.
He added: “The brief argues that the US district court could order the defendants, the US gun manufacturers, to reduce the violence committed abroad involving their products by adopting “reasonable retail and manufacturing practices”, including refraining from supplying the small number of dealers “whose misconduct precipitates the vast majority of illegal firearms trafficking”, committing to only work with dealers who take measures to ensure the guns are not sold to criminals, and making manufacturing changes that would reduce the harm caused by the guns.”