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New California bill modeled after Texas abortion law would let citizens sue gun makers

By Calley Hair
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announces legislation that would allow private citizens to sue gun manufacturers during a press conference at the Del Mar fairgrounds on Friday. Photo courtesy Gavin Newsom
1 of 2 | California Gov. Gavin Newsom announces legislation that would allow private citizens to sue gun manufacturers during a press conference at the Del Mar fairgrounds on Friday. Photo courtesy Gavin Newsom

Feb. 19 (UPI) -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a package of legislation Friday that would allow private citizens to sue gun manufacturers -- the state's answer to a restrictive Texas abortion law implemented last year.

The package comes after Newsom said in December that he had directed his staff to work with the state legislature and California Attorney General Rob Bonta to draw up a firearm ban modeled after the Texas law.

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Under one bill, anyone could sue manufacturers, distributors, transporters or sellers of assault-style weapons, .50 BMG rifles or unregulated homemade "ghost gun" kits. It was introduced by State Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys).

The other bill would prohibit companies from advertising certain kinds of weapons to children.

"It's time to go on the offensive with new measures that empower individuals to hold irresponsible and negligent gun industry actors to account, crack down on shameful advertising that targets our kids and more," Newsom said in a press release. "This is not about attacking law-abiding gun owners -- it's about stopping the tragic violence ravaging communities across the country."

The California legislation is modeled after a Texas law that bans abortion approximately six weeks after the pregnant person's last menstrual cycle using a unique enforcement mechanism: It deputizes private citizens, rather than the state's executive branch, to sue anyone who "aids and abets" the procedure.

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Any individual, even those with no connection to a patient or clinic, can sue anyone involved in an illegal abortion and win up to $10,000 in court, the Texas Tribune reported.

The Supreme Court declined to intervene on the issue earlier this year.

During a press conference Friday announcing the new gun legislation, Newsom made clear that he intends for California's bill to serve as a test for the court's precedent on abortion. He said he disagreed with the court's decision and considered it "outrageous."

"But they opened up the door. They set the tone, tenor, the rules. And either we can be on the defense complaining about it or we can play by those rules," Newsom said at the conference.

"There is no principled way the U.S. Supreme Court can't uphold this law," Newsom continued. "It is quite literally modeled after the law they just upheld in Texas."

The event was held at the fairgrounds in the coastal town of Del Mar, a site that's previously been at the center of the gun control debate. In 2019, Newsom signed a bill there banning the sale of firearms and ammunition at gun shows.

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Earlier this week, gunmaker Remington agreed to pay more than $70 million to settle a lawsuit with several families of victims of the Sandy Hook shooting attack that killed 20 young children a almost decade ago.

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