California Lawmakers Introduce Bill that Would Let ‘Victims’ Sue Gun Makers

Gov. Gavin Newsom (Photo: Youtube/CA Gov. Newsom)

California lawmakers are set to introduce a bill that would allow victims of gun-related violence, local governments, and the state to sue gun makers and sellers for “reckless” behavior.

Media outlets are covering the legislation as a copycat of a controversial Texas law that allows any private citizen to sue an abortion provider even if that citizen did not receive an abortion. California Gov. Gavin Newsom threatened to propose such a law after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to strike down the Texas policy.

In fact, the California law is modeled more closely after another equally bad New York law that allows gun makers to be sued for creating a “public nuisance.” That law has come under fire from the National Shooting Sports Foundation as a blatant attempt to “impose on the firearm industry a ‘death by a thousand cuts,’” said Lawrence Keane of the NSSF.

California’s law would have a similar effect.

Proponents of the law claim that only gun makers and sellers who engage in “reckless” activity could be sued by victims of gun-related violence. Tanya Schardt of Brady told the Sacramento Bee that the bill targets gun dealers who sell to straw purchasers.

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“Any kind of gun dealer who’s acting in a way that’s reckless or dangerous that creates an environment where somebody is harmed, those are the types of claims that we believe people should have an opportunity to pursue,” she said.

What constitutes “reckless or dangerous” is anyone’s guess. California has already banned the sale of handguns that do not incorporate microstamping technology. Presumably, gun makers will be sued for “reckless” behavior if they do not manufacture guns with microstamping and other non-existent safety features.

It’s also unclear who counts as a “victim.” The bill’s authors say that an entire community could sue gun makers even if not everyone in that community has been physically injured or had a family member physically injured.

California lawmakers may still introduce a bill more along the lines of the Texas abortion law, which allows any private citizen, not just a “victim,” to sue an abortion provider.

Mike Gipson, a California Democrat, told the Sacramento Bee that he plans to introduce legislation that would allow people to sue for the sale and manufacture of ghost guns and “assault weapons” in California. A spokesperson for Newsom also said the governor still plans to push a bill mirroring the Texas law.

If he does, he’ll have a tough hill to climb. The Texas law operates on the premise that private citizens, not state actors, enforce the law. That means that a court can’t get involved since courts are set up to tell state officials to stop enforcing a law, not regular people.

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But Newsom can’t construct a law like this around gun ownership. As Alan Gottlieb of the Second Amendment Foundation told GunsAmerica, such a law would clearly involve state action.

“A lawsuit’s very existence requires state action; it cannot be filed, maintained, heard, or resolved without state action,” Gottlieb said. “Any argument that the State, through its judicial system and judges, is not involved in the enforcement of lawsuits is contradicted by the plain language of the statute and by the reality of how state courts operate as an arm of the state to enforce the law, especially when the State has intentionally crafted a statute to employ private citizens as its proxy.”

Gottlieb also noted that in 2004, California’s Proposition 64 put in a requirement that for a private party to sue, there must be “injury in fact.” In other words, in order to sue a gun company, a person would have to prove that they had personally been injured by that company. A law modeled after the Texas abortion law could not be legal under Prof. 64.

This most recent legislation, Assembly Bill 1594, is authored by Gipson along with Democrats Phil Ting and Chris Ward.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 26 comments… add one }
  • KMacK January 14, 2022, 4:39 pm

    Hmm. I wonder if this law would also allow people to sue: Car Manufacturers, Toymakers, Appliance makers, Toolmakers, and even elected officials for the same sort of thing? This could be useful…

    • BisonBill January 15, 2022, 9:43 pm

      Especially the Elected Officials and prosecutors who release violent felons

  • kbc January 14, 2022, 4:25 pm

    More people are killed each year by drunk drivers. Why not apply the same BATFE and ambulance lawyer tactics to the “each ounce of alchohol vs each round of ammo” to the Pelosi California vineyards? (OOOPS, no way, the alchohol lobby is too large)

  • Gerald January 14, 2022, 3:08 pm

    Ahhh, California. Reminds me of my favorite type of girl: Very beautiful and just as stupid.

  • Stephen January 14, 2022, 1:35 pm

    OK:

    How bout we sue Cali. for being brain dead! What does the manufacturer have to do with a product once it has left their doors. They have absolutely no control over any of what goes on. Now, if the product was manufactured bad then yes, but bringing a lawsuit on anybody that has no control over what the user intends is wrong, stupid, and should be unconstitutional! It’s like suing the car company because you got caught driving drunk! The car company is not responsible for somebody’s stupidity! PERIOD!!!!!!

  • Stan d. Upnow January 14, 2022, 11:41 am

    If more laws like this become widespread, I’m worried that partakers of my super-hot garlic chili may sue me for destroying their anuses. LOL

  • Stan d. Upnow January 14, 2022, 11:27 am

    We all know Newsom is an arch Progressive-Socialist POS. He, along with his confederates, will try to push Anything that will pave the way for the Globalists’ “Great Reset.”

  • Will January 14, 2022, 9:50 am

    So, this bill will also allow people to sue their local polititians for reckless behavior, right???

    • Davron January 14, 2022, 10:47 am

      Why stop at local politicians? This law doesn’t stop at local gunmakers. I also vote to include unelected bureaucrats. Can we sue the Fed? I’ve got a lot of injury in fact from them.

  • gary January 14, 2022, 9:36 am

    WERE IS THE BILL TO ALLOW AMERICAN PEOPLE TO SUE LAW MAKERS?

  • Andrew January 14, 2022, 9:11 am

    If the gun companies would just quit selling Kali gov anything that isn’t legal for Mundanes, that’d solve this problem in about a year.
    Newsome wants bodyguards?
    Sure, their 10 round Block/MP’s have “bullet buttons” or whatever is legal, and if they want a rifle, it’s got to have that “grip wrap”.
    Oh, and the 21 day “waiting period” applies, sorry, can’t ship it today, have to wait until next month.

    • Davron January 14, 2022, 10:48 am

      Sadly many of the major gun manufacturers don’t really care about the 2nd amendment, they only care about their ability to get the next government contract. They have very little in the way of enlightened self-interest.

    • Walleye January 14, 2022, 4:16 pm

      Ronnie Barret did just that back in 2002. He gave the Chief of the LAPD his middle finger when they sent one of their department’s Barrett .50 cal. rifles back to him for service. After LA and CA banned private ownership of .50 cal. rifles, he told them to fix their law enforcement agency owned Barrett rifles themselves. Mr. Barrett is a strong man of principle and puts his money where his mouth is.
      https://www.gunowners.org/op0304/

  • D.J. January 14, 2022, 8:37 am

    Is it too late to sell California to the communist
    Chinese ?

    • Let's go Brandon, FJB January 14, 2022, 9:28 am

      Looking forward to the day that the San Andreas fault splits commifornia from the rest of the U.S

      • Stan d. Upnow January 14, 2022, 11:33 am

        I’ve half-jokingly said something similar for years. Just plant a few low-yield nukes along the fault to activate the split. Then, a buncha ocean tugboats push the Commie enclave across the ocean to N. Korea.
        They belong together.

  • David K January 14, 2022, 8:27 am

    What this will do is add another reason for dealer not to sell to buyers in Kalif-and that what they want it to do more then anything else !

  • Dr Motown January 14, 2022, 8:07 am

    By definition, a straw purchase is already illegal and the dealer has no way of knowing the true intention of the purchaser. That’s like a diabetic suing the grocery store after sending his neighbor to buy him donuts….SMH

    • Stan d. Upnow January 14, 2022, 11:37 am

      The only way to tell for sure is if the person buying the gun is accompanied by a second person, who then takes possession of the gun on the spot.

  • James Morrison January 14, 2022, 7:39 am

    Even if passed it will conflict with existing federal “Lawful Commerce in Firearms” act rendering it moot.
    Firearms manufacturers may already be sued if their direct actions are truly reckless or predatory or if the firearm is defective. Pure eyewash.

  • Doug McKinney January 14, 2022, 6:48 am

    Are they going to let vehicle accident victims sue car makers and sellers for negligence also? Probably not because they couldnt afford to take on the car makers

    • Ti January 14, 2022, 4:14 pm

      I live in Colorado.

      The limp wrist corn hole governor here, will determine who serves what amount of jailtime, by executive fiat after consulting with Kim Kardashian and the social media vote.

      Elites don’t give a sh*t about the justice system – to hell with a jury of your peers.

  • DeweyGivvadamn January 14, 2022, 6:47 am

    Fine…..use the same legal precedence to sue the alcohol and auto manufacturers for the victims of DUI’s

  • Roger January 14, 2022, 6:47 am

    Think I’ll be sure all the fruit, produce and dairy products I buy comes from Florida, Texas, Mexico, Georgia, or some other “friendly” state!!

  • Ron Stidham January 14, 2022, 6:44 am

    How about Sueing the hell out of all you big headed dumbasses that are trying to destroy our way of life, and the constitution. A gun is a weapon, so is a fork, if used to protect or destroy an attacker. Get your heads out of your asses. To many stupid people with nothing better to do than trying your best to be on top of the shit pile. Loose your security and let’s see if you buy a gun, or a fork. Dumbass.

  • bobs your uncle January 11, 2022, 9:41 am

    How about victims of crime sue the governor and the state?

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