US gun manufacturers are accountable for proliferation of guns in Bahamas


Philip Edward Davis

Bahamas PM Philip Edward Davis, in brief to in US Appeals Court says the guns used in the commission of violent crimes in The Bahamas are not manufactured in his country, but instead, are manufactured abroad and illegally trafficked across our borders. A critical element of the government’s effort to reduce violent crime in the 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.

As part of this broader effort to reduce the impact of gun violence in The Bahamas, the country 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 Commonwealth of The Bahamas was joined by Antigua and Barbuda, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and 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 states, “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,” the brief states, and notes that despite comprising less than 1 percent of the world’s population, the Caribbean records 23 percent of all homicides.

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.

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.