Call it a case of “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” Liberal Democratic Governor of California Gavin Newsome signed a gun control bill into law that will allow private citizens to sue anyone who manufactures, sells, transports, or distributes illegal “assault weapons and ghost guns.”
Such weapons are banned by state law in California. Newsome says the Supreme Court opened the door for him to apply the same rationale as last year’s Texas abortion ban that allows private citizens to sue physicians, drivers, or anyone else who aids a woman in receiving an abortion for $10,000.
The California gun law would grant $10,000 in damages per weapon to private citizens who sue. Citizens could also be awarded the same amount if they file a lawsuit against someone who illegally sells firearms to people under 21 years of age.
The bill was introduced after Newsom directed state lawmakers in December to draft a gun control measure modeled after Texas’ abortion law. The governor called for the legislation just days after the Supreme Court ruled that the Texas “heartbeat law” could remain in effect following a legal challenge.
“Our message to the criminals spreading illegal weapons in California is simple: you have no safe harbor here in the Golden State,” Newsom said in a press release about the new law. “While the Supreme Court rolls back reasonable gun safety measures, California continues adding new ways to protect the lives of our kids. California will use every tool at its disposal to save lives, especially in the face of an increasingly extreme Supreme Court.”
The bill was signed at Santa Monica College, the location of a 2013 shooting in which the gunman killed five people using an unserialized AR-15 rifle – also known as a “ghost gun” that had been built using legally purchased parts. The weapon would have been restricted under the new law.
The law is expected to cause lawsuits.
“It is obvious that this is a retaliation against lawful gun owners and the court because of the Texas decision. There’s a full expectation that the firearms industry will have a very strong reaction towards the signing of this bill,” Sam Paredes, executive director of Gun Owners of California, said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Newsome signed a number of other gun control bills last week aimed at tackling gun violence. The measures include a 10-year prohibition for firearm possession on those convicted of child or elder abuse, a reduction in the number of guns someone is allowed to manufacture without a license, and a requirement that the state justice department inspect gun dealers at least every three years beginning in 2024.
“With these new laws, California is protecting life, safety, and freedom.” he continued. “We have the strongest gun safety laws in the nation, and one of the lowest firearm mortality rates. This is not a coincidence. More guns do not make us safer — laws like these do. Period.”
And yet, in Los Angeles, as in many other big cities with Democratic governors such as New York and Baltimore, murder rates are surging and are at all-time highs over the same time last year.
The city saw 172 homicides through June 18, a 5.5% increase from the same period last year, and a 35% jump from the first half of 2020, according to Los Angeles Police Department data.