California Gov. Gavin Newsom signs a bill giving gun violence victims the right to sue firearms makers for negligence. File Photo by Eric Thayer/UPI | License Photo
July 12 (UPI) -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law Tuesday giving victims of gun violence in California the right to sue irresponsible firearms makers and distributors for negligence.
"To the victims of gun violence and their families: California stands with you," Newsom said in a statement. "The gun industry can no longer hide from the devastating harm their products cause."
The bill allows individuals, local governments and the California Attorney General to sue irresponsible manufacturers whose products are "abnormally dangerous" and distributors who sell guns that can be illegally converted or are sold to people banned from owning firearms.
Newsom said gun manufacturers and distributors have been shielded from the mass destruction they cause for too long.
"Nearly every industry is held to account when their products cause harm or injury except one, the gun industry," Newsom said as he signed the bill in a tweeted video message. "Today, California's going to change that."
"If you've been hurt or a family member is a victim of gun violence, you can now go to court and hold these makers of deadly weapons accountable," Newsom said.
The new law will take effect next summer and is expected to face legal challenges before then.
Newsom asked lawmakers to speed up gun restriction measures in California after a wave of mass shootings across the country.
"Gun violence is now the leading cause of death among kids and teens in the United States, surpassing car accidents," Newsom said. "I see no better argument for stronger gun safety legislation."
A similar bill, which has already cleared the legislature, would allow Californians to sue companies that distribute banned firearms like assault weapons.
The legislation is modeled after a Texas law that bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy 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.