California will be the first state to allow individuals to sue those spreading illegal assault weapons and ghost guns.— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) July 22, 2022
If states like Texas can use laws to put women in harm’s way, then California will use that authority to protect lives. pic.twitter.com/UolhK8EnOm
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed over 10 new laws restricting firearms this month alone.
The laws include limits on gun advertising to minors, more regulatory inspections for gun dealers, and a 10-year ban on firearm possession for anyone convicted of child or elder abuse.
The most controversial new law allows people to sue businesses that distribute so-called “assault weapons” or “ghost guns.” This law is modeled after a new Texas law that allows private citizens to sue anybody who aids and abets in an abortion.
“If they are going to use this framework to put women’s lives at risk, we are going to use it to save people’s lives here in the state of California,” said Newsom. “That’s the spirit, the principle, behind this law.”
Specifically, Senate Bill 1327 allows anyone in California to bring a lawsuit against anyone who distributes illegal “assault weapons,” parts that can be used to build weapons, guns without serial numbers, or .50-caliber rifles.
The law also allows legal challenges against any licensed firearm dealer who sells a firearm to anyone under 21 years of age. Plaintiffs who are successful in their lawsuits can be awarded $10,000 per weapon along with legal fees.
Interestingly, the law is scheduled to go into effect in January, but it includes language that would automatically invalidate the law if the courts find the Texas anti-abortion law to be unconstitutional.
The New York Times reports that Newsom came up with the idea for the law in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision “declining to block a Texas law that gives people the power to sue anyone involved in someone receiving an abortion, from the doctor who performs the procedure to the Uber driver who dropped the patient off at the clinic. Under that law, plaintiffs are entitled to $10,000 and their legal fees recovered if they win.”
Newsom’s decision to adopt the Texas legal strategy has caused several gun-rights groups to speak out in protest. Surprisingly, the American Civil Liberties Union has joined in the opposition.
In a letter, the A.C.L.U. warned about the dangers of empowering the Texas legal model.
“We admire and share the Governor’s commitment to reproductive freedom, and we do not take issue with his legitimate concerns about the deadly proliferation of illegal guns. But there is no way to ‘take advantage of the flawed logic’ of the Texas law,” the A.C.L.U.’s letter reads.
This new California law is expected to face legal challenges which could ultimately end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.