New gun control law in Calif. mimics Texas’ abortion rule
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California punched back Friday against two recent landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions as Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a controversial, first-in-thenation gun control law patterned after a Texas anti-abortion law.
His action comes one month after conservative justices overturned women’s constitutional right to abortions and undermined gun control laws in states including California.
Newsom stitched the two hot-button topics together in approving a law allowing people to sue anyone who imports, distributes, manufactures or sells illegal assault-style weapons, .50-caliber rifles, guns without serial numbers or parts that can be used to build firearms that are banned in California.
They would be awarded at least $10,000 in civil damages for each weapon, plus attorneys’ fees.
“While the Supreme Court rolls back reasonable gun safety measures, California continues adding new ways to protect the lives of our kids,” Newsom said in a statement released before he signed the bill. “California will use every tool at its disposal to save lives, especially in the face of an increasingly extreme Supreme Court.”
Lawmakers patterned the bill, at Newsom’s request, after a Texas law allowing citizens to sue anyone who provides or assists in providing an abortion.
The U.S. Supreme Court gave preliminary approval to the Texas law, but California’s law will automatically be invalidated if the Texas law is eventually ruled unconstitutional.
Newsom placed $30,000 worth of full-page advertisements in three Texas
newspapers Friday criticizing what he said is Gov. Greg Abbott’s hypocrisy on gun safety.
The ads parrot a comment by Abbott about children’s right to life but substitute “gun violence” where he said “abortion.”
“Governor Newsom should focus on all the jobs and businesses that are leaving California and coming to Texas,” Abbott spokeswoman Renae Eze responded.
It’s a similar tactic to the television ad that Newsom, a Democrat running for reelection, recently aired in Florida targeting Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Newsom has repeatedly denied presidential aspirations even while stoking that speculation.
Opponents of the California bill — including an unusual combination of gun owners’ advocates and the American Civil Liberties Union — have criticized creating what they said amounts to a bounty system to encourage such lawsuits.
The ACLU called California’s law “an attack on the constitution” for deliberately trying to sidestep judicial review by empowering enforcement by citizens and not governments, and for undermining due process rights.
“It’s a crappy decision, but the reality is that as long as it is the law, let’s make benefit of it by virtue of saving lives, trying to save lives, in California,” the bill’s author, Democratic state Sen. Robert Hertzberg, said while defending the bill in an interview. “It’s all about these two big issues that are facing us. And you can’t have a double standard. You can’t have one standard for guns and another standard for women’s reproductive health. It’s not right.”
Gun control advocacy organizations Moms Demand Action and affiliated Students Demand Action backed the bill’s potential to combat untraceable “ghost guns.”
Aside from the merits of the bill, opponents say it is written to discourage any legal challenges to California’s myriad gun regulations by requiring plaintiffs or lawyers to pay attorneys’ fees if they lose the lawsuit.
That portion of the law “is intended to make it impossible to file a Second Amendment challenge to an unconstitutional gun control law. That is itself unconstitutional,” said Chuck Michel, president of the California Rifle and Pistol Association.