It’s hard to believe that there are gun-control policies California hasn’t passed, but every year, the Golden State legislature does the unbelievable.
This year, they’re going after the gun industry rather than just lawful gun owners. A trio of bills is advancing through the legislature, two of which set up gun makers for expensive and potentially devastating legal battles.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry trade association, told GunsAmerica that they’re fighting the legislation, but it’s difficult to overcome the supermajority of anti-gun legislators in both the Assembly and the Senate.
AB 1594 has received the lion’s share of attention. This bill would create a “firearm industry standard of conduct,” which would require “firearm industry members” to establish “reasonable controls” and take “reasonable precautions” to ensure that a downstream distributor or retailor enforces “reasonable controls” on firearm sales.
The bill would further prohibit firearm industry members from making or selling “firearm-related” products that are “abnormally dangerous and likely to create an unreasonable risk of harm to public health.”
If a gun maker, distributor, or other “firearm industry member” breaks this standard of conduct, a private citizen who has “suffered harm” from that failure could sue that company for any damages the court deems appropriate.
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The bill wouldn’t just affect gun companies in California, either. Any company that sells a firearm, ammunition, a firearm precursor part, a firearm component, or a firearm accessory that could “reasonably” be foreseen to be sold in California would be liable.
The legislation, in other words, would effectively ban out-of-state gun companies from selling any kind of firearm-related product in the state.
The bill is written so broadly that “almost anyone could bring civil action against the firearm industry,” a spokesperson for the California Rifle and Pistol Association told KCRA. “It is an attack on the lawful commerce of firearms with an intent to limit the availability of firearms.”
Another bill making its way through the legislature would ban gun companies from marketing their products in any way that is “attractive to minors.”
“Firearms marketing contributes to the unlawful sale of firearms to minors, as well as the unlawful transfer of firearms to minors by adults who may possess those weapons lawfully,” states AB 2571. Therefore, any organization that publishes material directed to minors in any medium would be prohibited from marketing or advertising any firearm, ammunition, or (strangely) reloaded ammunition.
To determine whether an advertisement is “attractive” to minors, a court can consider virtually any aspect of that material. However, the bill has a few suggestions: “uses cartoon characters,” “offers brand name merchandise… for minors,” and “offers firearms or firearms accessories with colors or designs that are specifically designed to appeal to minors.”
If a person or organization is found to be in violation of this law, they can be fined up to $25,000 for each individual advertisement—even if that advertisement is a duplicate of another.
The final bill being tracked by gun-rights group, AB 1621, targets “ghost guns” by blocking the sale of unfinished gun parts until President Joe Biden’s new ghost gun ban takes effect. It would further ban anyone from manufacturing or assembling an unserialized firearm by doing away with the ability of a private gun maker to apply to the California DOJ for a serial number.
All three bills passed their initial committee votes.