California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Saturday announced a plan to crack down on the gun industry that would be modeled after Texas’ abortion law that allows private citizens to sue abortion providers.
In a statement issued Saturday evening, Newsom said he instructed his staff to devise a bill with California’s Legislature and attorney general that would allow citizens to sue anyone who “manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts” in the state. Newsom said that statutory damages could amount to at least $10,000 per violation, plus costs and attorney’s fees.
Newsom said he was “outraged” over the Supreme Court’s ruling last week. The court permitted abortion providers in Texas to sue certain state officials to preemptively block the state’s six-week abortion ban, but allowed the law will stay in effect for now. The law allows private individuals to sue anyone who “aids and abets” a pregnant woman in receiving a post-six week abortion. Successful suits net the individual at least $10,000 and attorneys’ fees recouped. A failed lawsuit gets the defense nothing.
“If states can now shield their laws from review by the federal courts that compare assault weapons to Swiss Army knives, then California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way,” Newsom said.
“If the most efficient way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private lawsuits, we should do just that,” Newsom continued.
In a tweet issued shortly after his statement announcing the gun bill, Newsom reiterated his dismay over Texas’ abortion law.
“SCOTUS is letting private citizens in Texas sue to stop abortion?!” Newsom tweeted on Saturday night. “If that’s the precedent, then we’ll let Californians sue those who put ghost guns and assault weapons on our streets. If TX can ban abortion and endanger lives, CA can ban deadly weapons of war and save lives.”
The announcement by Newsom, who prevailed overwhelmingly in a GOP-led recall battle months ago, comes on the heels of his endorsement of a proposal by political leaders in California to make the state a sanctuary for women seeking abortions if a Supreme Court ruling allows the procedure to be banned in more conservative parts of the country. The proposal demands increasing funding for abortion providers and dozens of other measures to make abortion access easier and for providers to receive compensation. Additionally, the proposal recommends funding for procedures for low-income pregnant people who come to the state for abortion services.
In addition to taking aim at Texas’ abortion law in his announcement on Saturday, Newsom appeared to take a swipe at a court ruling earlier this year when a federal judge overturned California’s decades-old ban on assault weapons, in which U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez likened an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle to a Swiss Army knife and called it “good for both home and battle.” A federal appeals court, however, ruled last month to uphold the state’s ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines.