Democratic Governor of California Gavin Newsom signed a gun bill into law on Friday based off of Texas’ abortion ban, which would allow citizens to sue those who violate gun laws in the state.
The bill, SB-1327, states that “[a]ny person, other than an officer or employee of a state or local governmental entity in this state, may bring a civil action against any person” who knowingly violates California gun law banning assault weapons or firearm parts.
A person can also be sued who “[k]nowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets” a violation of the law, “regardless of whether the person knew or should have known that the person aided or abetted would be violating [it],” or “[k]nowingly commits an act with the intent to engage in the conduct described…”
Lawsuits can be brought for at least $10,000 for each weapon or gun part. A licensed gun dealer can also be sued for selling a gun to someone under 21 years old.
“It’s ludicrous. I don’t think there’s a prayer of a chance that this will stand judicial scrutiny,” Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, told The Daily Wire.
Newsom said he expects the law to be challenged in court, saying on Friday, “We believe this will be litigated in the Supreme Court and we believe the Supreme Court will be challenged. Because if there’s any principle left whatsoever — and that’s an open ended question — with this Supreme Court, there is no way they can deny us the right to move in this direction.”
Newsom is also running ads in newspapers in Texas against Republican Governor of Texas Greg Abbott, which he stated on Friday was “for refusing to protect human life and take action against gun violence.”
Newsom tweeted, “If Texas can ban abortion and endanger lives, California can ban deadly weapons of war and save lives,” claiming that Abbott “should follow California’s lead” if he “truly wants to protect the right to life.”
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) July 22, 2022
The ads were first reported by NBC News and will be seen in the Austin American-Statesman, Houston Chronicle, and El Paso Times. Newsom similarly ran television ads in Florida targeting Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’ policies, leading many to speculate that the California governor is gearing up for a 2024 presidential bid.
Texas’ heartbeat abortion bill prohibits abortions after fetal cardiac activity can be detected, which is typically around six weeks of pregnancy. Private citizens are able to sue those who aid and abet an abortion, or perform one. The law was challenged and the Supreme Court allowed it to remain in effect as it went through state court battles.
Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze told outlet KXAN in an email, “Governor Newsom should focus on all the jobs and businesses that are leaving California and coming to Texas.”
“We think [the new California gun law] is a visceral knee-jerk reaction to what the Supreme Court did in Texas with the abortion law,” Paredes told The Daily Wire. “Even though the Supreme Court just said they were not going to issue a stay on the implementation of the law while it was going through a legal process, Governor Newsom got mad and said, ‘Okay, fine. We’re going to do the same thing with guns.’”
“This law opens up the ability for anybody to sue anyone in the lawful firearms commerce chain — from dealers, distributors, all the way to manufacturers — when someone misuses a firearm that they manufactured or sold in a criminal manner, and that is clearly unconstitutional,” he added.
He pointed to the “Protection of Lawful Commerce Act,” which he said “prevents people from filing these types of frivolous lawsuits where they’re looking for nothing more than a deep pocket.”
The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act became law in 2005 and doesn’t allow people in the gun industry to be sued when someone misuses their products.
“If they’re really looking to reduce crime in California, why aren’t they going after knives or fists where more people are killed annually nationwide with knives and fists and other, other things than they are with firearms?” Paredes pointed out.
“But they hate guns. They hate the Second Amendment, and that’s why they chose this subject matter,” he said, adding that his group is prepared to join with a group of other organizations to challenge the law in court.
“This kind of law will have absolutely no impact on criminal acts with firearms or gun-related deaths in any way, shape, or form. The only thing that this will allow is for anyone who is a victim of gun crimes will be able to sue the manufacturers of the firearms that were used in their victimization,” Paredes said. “That’s like saying you get involved in an accident with a drunk driver, and because the drunk driver was driving a Ford, the victim has the opportunity to sue Ford…”
Those who are in favor of Second Amendment rights aren’t the only ones criticizing Newsom’s bill. The American Civil Liberties Union was reportedly against Newsom’s bill, saying it could “escalate an ‘arms race’ … by setting up bounty-hunting schemes on politically sensitive issues.”