October 26, 2022
Veteran gun control attorney Jonathan Lowy opens a new front in the fight against gun violence: international action to stop cross-border trafficking
(WASHINGTON) Recognizing the potential for international action to stop the U.S. gun industry’s negligent business practices, longtime gun control advocate Jonathan Lowy has founded a new organization Global Action on Gun Violence, which seeks to hold the industry accountable for gun violence overseas through innovative litigation and policy reform. GAGV is making an impact already, working with the Government of Mexico and with Canadian citizens in landmark lawsuits against U.S. gun companies and speaking to international human rights bodies about the culpability of the industry.
“The gun industry’s unchecked reckless conduct is the heart of the gun violence problem,” said Lowy, who worked for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence for 25 years, including 15 as its chief legal counsel. “But the failure of American lawmakers and judges to take meaningful action means that what we’re doing in the United States is not enough. And the U.S. gun violence epidemic is becoming a global pandemic, as guns flood across our borders. Bold new action is needed to curb the industry. Pressure from the international community can be that new force for change.”
In August 2021, Mexico became the first sovereign country to sue American gun manufacturers, asserting that their conduct causes illegal trafficking into Mexico. This month, Mexico filed another groundbreaking lawsuit, using RICO claims against several gun dealers in Arizona for cross-border trafficking. Global Action on Gun Violence pioneered these legal strategies and serves as co-counsel on both lawsuits. In 2019, victims of a mass shooting in Toronto filed the first ever class action lawsuit in Canada against a gun company (Smith & Wesson) for the design of the gun used to kill two and wound 13. GAGV is serving as foreign legal counsel in this suit.
Yesterday Lowy testified at a hearing held by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States on the role that U.S. gun manufacturers and dealers play in fueling gun violence in Mexico and other nations. At the hearing, Lowy called on the Commission to issue a report on the human rights impacts of gun trafficking from the United.States and to recommend that the U.S. and other countries implement strong gun regulations. Lowy stated:
Immunity leads to impunity. Lax U.S. laws give the arms industry effective immunity from regulation and accountability, that leads to impunity to supply the criminal market and infringe on core human rights of people throughout the region.
The criminal gun market is not unavoidable; it is the result of deliberate actions by private arms companies, and lax laws that allow them. Dealers choose to sell guns to buyers they know are likely trafficking, and manufacturers choose to supply them without any condition or oversight.
On November 3, Lowy will speak at a conference, “The Business of Lethality: Arms Trafficking to Mexico,” in Mexico City, hosted by El Colegio de México and the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The proceedings will be streamed live on YouTube.
# # #
Media contact: Nancy Hwa, 703-942-9812