Litigator Jonathan Lowy on Wednesday debuted a new international-focused nonprofit pledging to bring lawsuits against US gun companies.
The group, called Global Action on Gun Violence, is working with the Canadian and Mexican governments to bring litigation against gun makers.
It is already acting as foreign legal counsel to victims of a 2019 mass shooting in Toronto. The plaintiffs filed the first-ever class action lawsuit in Canada against Smith & Wesson over the design of a weapon used to kill two and wound 13.
The goal is “to stop the gun industry’s negligent business practices,” according to a statement from Global Action on Gun Violence.
Lowy resigned last month from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, named for the late James Brady, President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary shot during a 1981 assassination attempt. He spent 25 years at the Brady Campaign, the last 15 as its top lawyer.
The Brady Campaign focuses “on a strictly domestic agenda,” Lowy said in an interview.
“We’re doing something new. There is no one else using litigation as a mechanism in working with the international community to track gun violence.”
Lowy’s former employer didn’t respond to requests for comment. It has posted a job listing looking for a new chief legal officer.
Lowy’s departure came after he and other former Brady employees filed a lawsuit this month in US federal court against five Arizona gun stores on behalf of the Mexican government.
The litigation required Lowy’s new group to register with the Justice Department as an agent of a foreign government under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which has risen in prominence in recent years.
The lawsuit, filed Oct. 10 by Lowy’s group and two law firms in a federal court in Tucson, Ariz., accuses gun dealers in the state of being complicit in the alleged trafficking of illegal guns into Mexico.
In 2021, Mexico became the first country to sue nearly a half-dozen US gun manufacturers—including Smith & Wesson, Beretta USA Corp., Glock Inc., and Sturm, Ruger & Co.—on weapons trafficking grounds.
Global Action on Gun Violence “pioneered these legal strategies” and now serves as co-counsel to the Mexican government in both lawsuits, according to the new group’s statement announcing its formation.
Jones Day is one of several law firms representing US gun companies in the $10 billion case filed by Mexico. That firm also once did work for Brady, Lowy said.
Large law firms are increasingly moving away from representing the gun industry, Lowy said. He noted how veteran appellate litigator Paul Clement’s recent departure from Kirkland & Ellis over the latter’s stance against taking on gun rights cases.
“There’s always been a massive majority of people in favor of sensible gun laws,” Lowy said. “Now you’re seeing more and more law firms come around and put that as one of their top tier issues.”
Lowy’s longtime employer paid him nearly $231,000 during its most recent 2019-20 fiscal year, according to a federal tax filing by Brady.
Kristin Brown, a former associate at Weil, Gotshal & Manges and chief legal and administrative officer at Swiss airline service company Gategroup Holding AG, has been president of Brady since 2017. She was paid roughly $352,800 in 2019-20.
At his new organization, Lowy holds the title of president and chief executive. Former Brady Campaign managing attorney Elizabeth Burke is chief operating officer.
Dennis Henigan, a former acting president and chief counsel at the Brady Campaign, is a member of the new group’s board, along with Malcolm Ruby, a cross-border disputes partner at Gowling WLG in Toronto who previously worked with Lowy on gun litigation.
The group, which receives donor funds, expects to partner with outside counsel on a pro bono or contingency fee basis to pursue cases, Lowy said.
“Gun violence is a global problem that demands a global solution,” he said. “It’s rightly been labeled an epidemic, but now it’s becoming a global pandemic that’s spreading. The international community has a vested interest in stopping it.”
Everytown for Gun Safety, a gun violence prevention organization, is backed by Michael Bloomberg, the majority owner of Bloomberg Law’s parent company.
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